Weather

Update: Beaufort, Jasper counties spared significant freezing rain

Penny Moskal, of Saskatchewan, Canada, walks on one of the paths at Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park on Monday afternoon in Beaufort.
Penny Moskal, of Saskatchewan, Canada, walks on one of the paths at Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park on Monday afternoon in Beaufort. Delayna Earley

Update: A threat of freezing rain has passed, with the National Weather Service canceling its advisories in Beaufort and Jasper counties early Tuesday morning. Temperatures across the region will remain above freezing this morning before rising to the upper 30s and 40s this afternoon, service meteorologist Jonathan Lamb said.

Day after day, last week's forecasts created a sort of weather whiplash.

Mornings in the low 20s gave way to mild, sunny days, and temperatures in the 70s on Sunday were dashed by clouds and wind. The average temperature in the Lowcountry leapt more than 30 degrees in just three days, and on Monday, the seesaw continued with a forecast of freezing rain.

Aside from making it difficult to dress, the fluctuating weather also caused some people health problems. For the most part, though, unusually cold days are the sole source of winter weather woes, from broken pipes to low tires, local businesses say.

FREEZING RAIN

The National Weather Service in Charleston issued a freezing rain advisory for areas of northern Beaufort and Jasper counties from 4 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, with the worst conditions expected from daybreak to noon.

Beaufort and Jasper county public schools and Bridges Preparatory School canceled Tuesday classes ahead of the inclement weather.

The rain was expected to mainly affect areas near and inland from U.S. 17, including Dale and Sheldon in Beaufort County, Tarboro in Jasper County, and parts of Charleston County, according to service meteorologist Emily Timte.

HEALTH PROBLEMS

When the weather is unpredictable, Graham Jones can count on one thing -- his patients will be struggling to breathe.

Jones, a senior clinical exercise physiologist at Beaufort Memorial Hospital, says low temperatures, wind and high humidity are hard enough on people with respiratory problems. Having all of them in one week can be dangerous, he said.

"It's hard for people with respiratory issues to adapt to those very rapid changes," he said, adding that he counsels many of his patients to take it slow on cold days and stay inside when humidity is above about 40 percent.

On Sunday, humidity reached 86 percent, with winds of up to 22 mph.

Children are particularly vulnerable, Jones said. Practices like Seaside Pediatrics of Bluffton said they regularly see a spike in patients during swift weather changes.

SHELTERS

The same can't be said for the dogs at the Hilton Head Humane Association, who seem to pep up in cold weather.

However, frequent ups and downs can still be tricky for the staff, director Franny Gerthoffer said. During cold snaps, the shelter moves older dogs inside and outfits the rest with blankets and kennels.

When temperatures warm up, those supplies go away and the adopters come back.

"So far, knock on wood, (health) has not been a factor," Gerthoffer said. "It's just a matter of moving the chess pieces around."

DAMAGES

Last week's weather brought some extra business to local service centers and plumbers who say freezing temperatures can cause low tire pressure and damage pipes.

The problems can be serious, but are usually preventable, companies say.

Terry Fowler, manager of Bluffton Tire & Auto, urges people to check their coolant before temperatures dip, and to purchase windshield washer fluid with antifreeze. Some people also experience low tire pressure and battery problems, said Fowler and Alice Cliff, service manager of Hilton Head Mazda and Subaru of Hilton Head.

"If you have a battery that's weak, the cold will kill it quicker than anything," Cliff said.

Keith's House of Plumbing in Beaufort and Kelly & Sons Plumbing on Hilton Head suggest those who live in mobile homes and houses with a crawl space let their faucets drip -- while running both hot and cold water -- during freezing temperatures.

That prevents pipes from freezing, and possibly breaking.

The same goes for hose bibs, Terre Kelly of Kelly & Sons said. And the running water should be good for plants, which should survive the freeze unless they're newly planted or sprouting buds, Beaufort County-Clemson Extension horticulturist Laura Lee Rose said.

The fluctuation is "very confusing for the plants," she said. "The one thing that's consistent about the weather here is that it's pretty inconsistent."

Follow reporter Rebecca Lurye on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Rebecca.

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