FLORENCE, S.C. -- Closings and cancellations flew fast and furious Tuesday as what is projected to be a "historic" weather event rolled into the Pee Dee.
Gov. Nikki Haley as of noon Tuesday declared a state of emergency for South Carolina to free up additional resources and allow state agencies to better coordinate any storm response. The state department of consumer affairs also issued warnings against price gouging.
Throughout the Pee Dee school systems and local governments announced they would close early on Tuesday and not be open at all on Wednesday.
US Airways Express canceled all remaining Tuesday flights and all Wednesday flights but the scheduled Flight 4265 with a 6:18 p.m. departure time to Florence. The corresponding 5:13 p.m. departure from Charlotte to Florence remained on the scheduled as well.
As colder temperatures drifted south from North Carolina into South Carolina what started out as rain quickly changed into sleet and show Tuesday morning into Tuesday afternoon.
"It's just a significant icing event that going to be unfolding Wednesday and, unfortunately, with some longstanding consequences if it comes to fruition," Steven Pfaff, National Weather Service meteorologist said during a conference call on the storm Tuesday morning.
Tuesday, he said, would be the first of a one-two winter weather punch. Wednesday will be much worse, he said.
"It's going to be a miserable mix of weather across our area," he said.
It's going to be two days of misery, according to the power point forecast that accompanied the conference call.
Tuesday cold temperatures are forecast to spread out of North Carolina into the Pee Dee and bring a change from rain to snow as it happens.
"As the day wears on the focus will shift to the western areas, southwest of Lumberton into Dillon and into parts of Marlboro County, northern Darlington County and parts of Florence," Pfaff said as he outlined where the snowfall would likely be heaviest.
Up to two inches of snow could fall north of a line that runs through southern Darlington County, northern Florence and Marion Counties on through Green Sea in Horry County, Pfaff said.
Wednesday, as a second low pressure system moves up the Atlantic coast, the ice storm will hit.
'Everybody is going to get the brunt of it Wednesday," Pfaff said.
There is a 70 percent probability of a quarter inch or more of ice falling across portions of the northern and western areas of the Pee Dee during Wednesday's storm.
"(Weather models) have been consistently showing the highest probability of freezing rain falling in the western Florence, Darlington (Counties) and as you head back to the Columbia area," Pfaff said.
Some weather models are showing up to an inch of ice accumulation possible in the Pee Dee.
"They're already pretty high but I wouldn't be shocked again if they are higher. This could be a historic icing event for our area," Pfaff said.
"To see icing of this magnitude this far south and this close to the coast is extremely rare. The population is just not used to having this situation in front of them."
Beyond hazardous driving conditions and dangerous walking conditions the major impact of such an event would be widespread power outages, according to the power point presentation.
"The weight of the freezing rain in the heaviest hit areas may be able to bring elevated power lines down in addition to those power lines that are downed by fallen limbs," according to the briefing power point presentation.
Here is the National Weather Service county-by-county breakdown of what to expect with this storm:
Darlington/Marlboro/Dillon/Robeson/Bladen/far western Pender: Light rain mixed with sleet will transition to snow and sleet by late morning and increase during the afternoon with accumulations of 1 to 2 inches possible. Additional accumulations of snow/sleet and some freezing rain will occur late tonight into Wednesday morning. The precipitation will gradually come to an end Thursday morning as a wintery mix.
Florence/Marion/northern Williamsburg/inland Horry/Columbus/central and southwest Pender County: Light rain this morning will increase and mix with wintry weather during the afternoon with minimal accumulation. The main accumulations of snow and sleet with some freezing rain will occur late tonight into Wednesday morning. A transition to freezing rain is anticipated during Wednesday morning with significant icing expected across portions of inland South Carolina. The precipitation will gradually come to an end Thursday morning as a mix of wintry weather and all rain.
Southern Williamsburg/Georgetown/coastal Horry/Brunswick/New Hanover/eastern Pender: Light rain continues today with sleet mixing in and increasing later today. Little to no accumulation is expected today. The main accumulation of freezing rain for the more inland areas of these portions will occur late tonight into Wednesday morning. Significant icing is expected late tonight and during much of Wednesday for inland South Carolina portions. The precipitation will gradually come to an end likely as all rain Thursday morning.