Georgetown County moves to 'OPCON 3' - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Georgetown County moves to 'OPCON 3'

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GEORGETOWN COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – The Georgetown County government has moved to Operating Condition (OPCON) 3 as of 8 a.m. Tuesday in preparation for the possibility of freezing rain and sleet forecast.

OPCON 3 indicates a "standby" status in preparation for a likely or imminent emergency situation. The shift to OPCON 3 also triggered partial activation of the county's Emergency Operations Center (EOC).

Georgetown County government offices and facilities are also closed Tuesday. The Georgetown County Council meeting scheduled for Tuesday night has also been canceled, and all recreational department games and programs have been canceled for Tuesday and Wednesday. 

Below is a news release from Georgetown County detailing what 'OPCON 3' means for the county:

Georgetown County government moved to Operating Condition (OPCON) 3 as of 8 a.m. today in preparation for the possibility of freezing rain and sleet forecast for today and Wednesday. OPCON 3 indicates a "standby" status in preparation for a likely or imminent emergency situation. The shift to OPCON 3 also triggered partial activation of the county's Emergency Operations Center (EOC).

Georgetown County is under a winter storm warning through 6 p.m. Wednesday. Predictions call for precipitation consisting mostly of freezing rain for the coastal areas of the county, followed by sleet and snow. This has the potential to create extremely dangerous road conditions and cause widespread power outages as limbs snap from the weight of freezing rain and fall onto power lines. Weather conditions will deteriorate during the day with significant winter weather impacts this afternoon and into the night. Up to three-fourths of an inch of ice are predicted for our area. Half an inch is enough to bring down power lines.

County and municipal officials, in conjunction with S.C. Emergency Management and the National Weather Service, continue to monitor the situation closely. Extra staff have been called in by the Georgetown County Sheriff's Office and fire/EMS departments. The county is prepared to open shelters if necessary. Those locations will be announced.

County offices and facilities are closed today, along with Georgetown County public schools and the City of Georgetown's offices and facilities. Decisions will be made later today on closings for Wednesday. Check www.gtcounty.org for closing notices and other updates.

Updates are also available via the county's automated information hotline, (843) 545-3900. The hotline is available 24 hours a day when the county's EOC is activated and will contain the latest storm information. For questions or other information, call Georgetown County Emergency Management, (843) 545-3273.

No bridges in Georgetown County will close, but motorists are advised to use extreme caution when crossing during icy conditions. Elevated road surfaces, including bridges and overpasses will be the first roadways to be impacted by winter conditions. Dangerous road conditions are expected to persist though Wednesday.

Residents are advised to be prepared for lengthy power outages.

Georgetown County Emergency Management recommends the following precautions:

Before a Winter Storm

* Add winter supplies like rock salt to melt ice and shovels to your disaster supply kit.

* Prepare for possible isolation in your home by having sufficient heating fuel; regular fuel sources may be cut off.

* Insulate pipes with insulation or newspapers and plastic and allow faucets to drip a little during cold weather to avoid freezing.

* Learn how to shut off water valves in case a pipe bursts.

* Have your vehicle serviced to ensure it is prepared for the winter season.

* Place a winter emergency kit in every vehicle that includes: a shovel; windshield scraper and small broom; flashlight; battery-powered radio; extra batteries; water; snack food; matches; extra hats, socks and mittens; first aid kit with pocket knife; necessary medications; blankets; tow chain or rope; road salt and sand; booster cables; emergency flares; fluorescent distress flag.

During a Winter Storm

* Stay indoors. If you must go outside, dress in layers of loose fitting, lightweight clothing. Wear a hat that covers your ears. Wear mittens and cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs. Wear waterproof, insulated boots to keep your feet warm and dry and to maintain your footing in ice and snow.

* Avoid overexertion when shoveling snow. Overexertion can bring on a heart attack—a major cause of death in the winter. If you must shovel snow, stretch before going outside.

* Keep dry. Change wet clothing frequently to prevent a loss of body heat. Wet clothing loses all of its insulating value and transmits heat rapidly.

* Watch for signs of frostbite such as the loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in extremities such as finger, toes, ear lobes and the tip of your nose.

* Drive only if it is absolutely necessary. If you must drive, travel in the day, don't travel alone and keep others informed of your schedule. Decrease your speed and leave plenty of room to stop the vehicle on icy roads.

* If trapped in your car during a winter weather event, pull off of the highway and turn on your hazard lights. Remain in your vehicle where rescuers are most likely to find you. Run the engine and heater about 10 minutes each hour to keep warm. When the engine is running, open a downwind window slightly for ventilation and periodically clear snow from the exhaust pipe. This will protect you from possible carbon monoxide poisoning.

* Exercise to maintain body heat, but avoid overexertion. Drink fluids to avoid dehydration.

After a Winter Storm

* Listen to your local radio or television station for the latest weather and traffic reports.

* Go to a designated shelter if your home loses power or heat during periods of extreme cold.

* Check on your animals and ensure that their access to food and water is not blocked by snow

drifts, ice or other obstacles. Bring them indoors, if possible.

* Be aware of possible carbon monoxide poisoning, electric shock and fire if using alternative

sources for electricity, heating or cooking.

For more winter weather tips, visit www.scemd.org. Visit www.gtcounty.org for local updates.

Copyright 2014 WMBF News. All rights reserved.

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