- Associated Press - Thursday, February 19, 2015

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - Although skies were sunny, South Carolina shivered through another day of arctic cold Thursday and forecasters warned of one more night of frigid weather before a weekend warmup.

Winds gusting to 30 mph kept wind chills well below freezing at midday across the state and the National Weather Service extended a wind chill warning for the Upstate.

Forecasters said wind chills early Friday from Rock Hill west to the mountains could drop below zero.

A number of schools across the state opened late and some planned to do so again Friday. Utility companies were urging people to conserve power, especially in the morning.

“This critically cold period will only last a couple of days. The focus is on those early-morning hours when you’re getting up and ready for work or school,” Marc Tye, the senior vice president of customer service for Santee Cooper, the state-owned electric utility, said in a statement.

Highs in the 40s and 50s are expected to return by Saturday.

A cold snap can often mean broken pipes, especially along the sea islands where shorefront homes often have exposed pipes.

John Blitch, the owner of Blitch Plumbing in Charleston, received a few calls but said temperatures have to stay in the teens several days to cause major problems. He also said there are fewer problems in newer homes that now use cross-linked polyethylene, which can expand and contract slightly.

“When it thaws out, the chances of it busting are less than with copper, PVC or plastic pipe,” he said.

In Charleston, blustery cold kept tourists off the streets. The drivers of horse-drawn carriages bundled up waiting for fares and the open-air City Market, which this time of year would be awash with tourists, was largely empty of both vendors and visitors.

The cold was even affecting business for Captain Telegram, who for 35 years has delivered singing telegrams in Columbia.

“When people are cold, they want to slow down and the survival thing kicks in and you do what you’ve got to do to be more comfortable,” he said, adding that does not include ordering telegrams.

But Captain Telegram doesn’t mind heading out in the cold for a delivery.

“When someone is waving money, I do what I’ve got to do,” he laughed.

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