More cold weather coming to Beaufort County

mmcnab@beaufortgazette.comJanuary 21, 2014 

Brace yourself: More cold weather arrives Wednesday and will stay for a few days.

And although the freezing blast won't be as potent as a cold snap earlier this month, when the low reached 17 degrees in Charleston on Jan. 7, Beaufort Plumbing owner Keith Kelley warns residents not to take the weather lightly.

"All we did for two days was repair broken pipes," Kelley said, describing his work days after a cold spell that spanned the first and second weeks of January. "... Houses here weren't built for the cold."

Cold is coming, nonetheless.

Two fronts will move through the area, sending lows below freezing during the next few days, according to National Weather Service Charleston meteorologist Doug Berry. Temperatures aren't expected to dip to the near-record lows as they did earlier this month, but the cold fronts could mean lows of 27 degrees Tuesday night and Thursday, according to Berry.

Residents are urged to take precautions.

Kelley said hose bibs -- exterior spigots to which garden hoses are often attached -- or a faucet should be left dripping to prevent pipes from freezing.

Tropical plants and perennials should be covered or brought inside to protect them from frost and the cold, said Bessie Stauffer, nursery manager at Sunshine Hardscape, Landscape & Nursery in Bluffton. Stauffer said plants already burned by frost earlier this month or damaged this week should be cut back to ground level so they can sprout in spring.

Pet owners should bring their animals inside before the cold, said Bluffton Veterinary Hospital owner Chris Conley.

Beaufort County School District spokesman Jim Foster said school buses would be started earlier in the morning to make sure they operate properly, but he expected no other weather-related problems.

Palmetto Electric Cooperative and SCE&G spokeswomen said both utilities were preparing Tuesday for the possibility of lines getting knocked down by wind. Downed lines can be reported to Palmetto Electric at 800-922-5551 and to SCE&G at 888-333-4465.

Space heaters and other heating elements should also be monitored to prevent fires, said Burton Fire District spokesman Daniel Byrne. An American Red Cross news release featured similar precautions -- like making sure fires in fireplaces are out and space heaters are off before going to sleep -- after a week in which 99 people around the state were displaced by fires.

"We're seeing more use of open flames in homes, including running ovens 24/7 with the doors open," Byrne said. "Anything that generates heat should be placed a minimum of 3 feet from anything combustible, and space heaters should be plugged directly into outlets and not extension cords."

Most of the cold weather will dissipate by Saturday, when highs are expected to return to the 50s.

Ironically, it will snow at Shelter Cove Community Park just as the weather warms. The Hilton Head Snow Day will be held rain or shine, organizers said. The event, which features machine-generated snow, benefits the Island Recreation Association, said the nonprofit's director of operations and programs, Leah Arnold.

"The kids will get to know what a real snow day is like," she joked.

The first Hilton Head Chowder Challenge at Reilley's Plaza will also go on as planned, said Judy Trew, founder of the Heather Trew Foundation, which the challenge benefits.

"I think people will be in the mood for something warm," she said. "They should come try the chowder."

Follow reporter Matt McNab at twitter.com/IPBG_Matt.

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