- Associated Press - Monday, February 10, 2014

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - A second round of ice and snow is heading for South Carolina this week, with forecasters warning this storm could be significantly more serious than the winter weather that shut down the state two weeks ago.

The National Weather Service said it is still too early to pinpoint exactly how much snow and ice will accumulate starting late Tuesday night into Thursday, but national forecasters are warning of the possibility of paralyzing and possibly historic amounts of ice from freezing rain in areas from Aiken to Columbia to Florence. Farther north along the Interstate 85 corridor, the weather service said 4 to 6 inches of snow could fall.

“Our certainty that something is going to happen is pretty high. It’s the details like the exact timing, the exact turnover from snow to freezing rain and the amounts that will fall that have uncertainty,” said Whitney Smith, a meteorologist with the weather service in Columbia.

The weather service’s best estimate is a quarter to three-quarters of an inch of ice on power lines and trees. If the upper end of the forecast falls, the effects could be devastating. South Carolina hasn’t seen a major ice storm in nearly a decade. In December 2005, similar amounts of ice fell across the Upstate and Duke Energy at the time estimated 60 percent of its South Carolina customers lost power. The last serious ice storm in the Midlands and Pee Dee was January 2004, with three-quarters of an inch of ice left 250,000 customers without electricity,

Winter storm warnings were issued for much of the state. The freezing rain and ice could reach as far south as Walterboro, Summerville and Conway, although the immediate coast is expected to remain with just a cold rain through this storm

Officials are already starting to prepare. The South Carolina Senate decided to call off this week’s session. The House was already planning to take the week off. Emergency officials met Monday afternoon, but were waiting before taking any additional action.

The Department of Transportation started to load salt and sand trucks for a second time in two weeks. On Jan. 28, much of South Carolina saw at least an inch of snow, while the coast saw freezing rain. Most amounts were less than a quarter-inch, but it was enough to close the Ravenel Bridge in Charleston for more than 40 hours.