FLORENCE, S.C. -- The Pee Dee faces a very damaging winter storm that is forecast to bring at least a tenth of an inch of freezing rain to the area and could bring up to an inch of ice Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday.
"IF we have that we're talking extensive power outages, extensive damage to the power infrastructure if that does unfold like some of the models are hinting at," Steve Pfaff, National Weather Service in Wilmington said during a conference call Monday morning.
Up to an inch of ice accumulation could occur across portions of Darlington, Florence and northwestern Williamsburg Counties and maybe into Marion and Dillon counties, Pfaff said.
Farther north the winter storm is forecast to transition from freezing rain to snow and sleet until finally snow over central and western North Carolina, Pfaff said.
"Southern storms are extremely difficult to forecast, but right now using the data from last night it looks like significant icing is expected," Pfaff said.
"The (National Weather Service) has high confidence that this event will produce significant icing in the Pee Dee area," Kristy Hughes, natural hazards coordinator for the Florence County Emergency Management Division, said through a release issued Monday morning.
Coastal areas, he said, could escape with just rain -- or not. The difference this far out from the storm's arrival, he said, is just a couple of degrees one way or the other, Pfaff said..
The worst of the storm is forecast to hit the Pee Dee and then on toward Columbia, he said.
"Residents should prepare for the possibility of power outages, problems with pipes that are not fully insulated or at risk to burst and very dangerous driving conditions," Darlington County officials said through a release issued Monday morning.
The storm will develop over the Pee Dee and will likely start with light rain Tuesday morning which shouldn't present any problems initially, Pfaff said.
"Conditions really deteriorating Tuesday afternoon and especially Tuesday night into Wednesday morning," is what residents can look forward to moving through the week he said.
Driving this winter storm are three different low pressure centers that will move across northern Florida, out into the Atlantic Ocean and then up the coast.
Pfaff said as the pressure centers pass precipitation may change to rain before returning to freezing rain, sleet or snow.
The final low pressure center is forecast to pass Thursday and then all precipitation should transition to rain, Pfaff said.
"Most of the impacts are going to occur on the 11th and 12th and maybe into Thursday morning on the 13th," Pfaff said.
The current weather forecast calls for the rain to taper off Thursday and for the daytime high to be 42 degrees before it cools off to about 31 degrees overnight.
Friday's high temperature is forecast to be 54 degrees.
By Sunday temperatures in the Pee Dee are forecast to approach 60 degrees.
A county by county look from Pfaff at what the storm may bring as of the Monday 2 p.m. briefing:
DARLINGTON COUNTY: Tuesday the southern half may get up to two inches of snow, your northern half a little higher. You'll see freezing rain Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. "You're still in a healthy mix, but a dangerous mix," Pfaff said.
FLORENCE COUNTY: Light accumulation snow and sleet late Tuesday morning into afternoon. Southern Florence County will be really impacted Tuesday night into Wednesday morning and it will primarily be freezing rain in the lower part of the county and then a healthy mix (snow and freezing rain) in the northern area across Florence and northern Florence County
WILLIAMSBURG COUNTY: "I could see even more of your county being included in that major impact area, especially if things do initialize a little bit colder. But you are going to be in that transition zone from southeast to northeast. The bulk of resources will be needed the northern two thirds (of Williamsburg County)," Pfaff said.
MARION COUNTY: Late morning accumulations start and the more, especially the afternoon with the snow and sleet and freezing rain in the Briton's Neck. Northern parts of Marion County will get more snow, central parts of the county will get more freezing rain.
DILLON COUNTY: Light if anything Tuesday morning, then by late morning and afternoon up to two plus, three or four inches of snow in the northern part into eastern Marlboro County. The county will get freezing rain and snow Tuesday night into Wednesday morning.
MARLBORO COUNTY: In the early part of the morning there'll be light precipitation around but as the morning progresses you're going to see better chances of sleet and snow and then getting into additional snow, sleet and freezing rain late Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning.