- Associated Press - Monday, January 27, 2014

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Forecasters predicted a winter storm could bring as much as 8 inches of snow as it cuts a swath across the Carolinas on Tuesday, with the heaviest snowfall expected in eastern North Carolina.

The National Weather Service posted winter storm warnings effective Tuesday morning from the Savannah River on South Carolina’s western edge northeast to the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Meteorologist Carin Goodall of the National Weather Service office in Morehead City, N.C., said an arctic cold front would move through the region Monday and stall offshore.

A low-pressure center forming along the front was to move northeast, spinning moisture into the region with snow beginning Tuesday and continuing into Wednesday.

She said the worst time for travel would be overnight Tuesday, with heavy snow and wind gusts of up to 25 mph in eastern North Carolina. Temperatures will remain in the 20s with wind chills in the single digits.

“It’s unusual but not unheard of” to have such snow in the region, she said. “Two years ago we got about a foot on the Outer Banks.”

Winter storm watches were being posted Tuesday for the lower South Carolina coast.

Concern about the storm prompted leaders of the South Carolina General Assembly on Monday to cancel this week’s legislative sessions in Columbia.

Many school districts in the two states planned to run on half-day schedules on Tuesday. The North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro announced it would be closed.

The Weather Service in Morehead City forecast 4 to 8 inches of snow with some higher amounts and the possibility of ice and sleet accumulating along the coast. Snowfall totals are expected to be less farther west, with about 2 to 5 inches in Raleigh, N.C.

The National Weather Service in Columbia also forecast snow and sleet accumulations of 2 to 4 inches in the South Carolina Midlands.

Forecasters said there could be ice accumulations of as much as a half-inch in the Columbia area and warned that travel will be dangerous, with potentially lengthy power interruptions.

The South Carolina Department of Transportation announced that road crews would begin working 12 hour shifts Tuesday putting sand and brine on highways.

The North Carolina Department of Public Safety urged residents to prepare for snow and cold. Residents were advised to use flashlights, not candles, if the electricity fails. They were also advised to use only two rooms in their homes, shutting off others to maintain heat if the power goes out.

South Carolina Electric & Gas warned customers to assume any downed power line is live and never to use outdoor cooking stoves or grills for heat in case of outages.

Forecasters in Charleston said the storm was expected to bring as much as 2 inches of snow along the state’s coast and as much as a half-inch of ice.

Small craft warnings were to take effect late Monday for the entire Carolinas coast from the Georgia to the Virginia state lines.

The worst conditions just offshore were expected Tuesday night with rain, freezing rain and sleet, seas up to 6 feet, and winds gusting as high as 35 mph.

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