Storm of the generation

Published 8:00 am Saturday, December 8, 2018

Area braces for potential snow, ice over weekend

POLK COUNTY — Bread, milk and gas were scarce in the area by Thursday evening, as residents and local governments prepare for what is being called “the storm of the generation.”

Rain, sleet, ice and snow are expected for Polk County, starting Saturday evening and not ending until Monday afternoon. Some forecasters say the area could receive 6-10 inches of snow, while others have the county listed in the 10-20 inches of snow category. The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for Polk County through Monday at noon, saying travel will be dangerous and power outages are likely.

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Area governments say they will be prepared no matter what occurs.

Polk County Manager Marche Pittman said county emergency management held emergency services planning meetings beginning on Thursday through the rest of the week.

“We intend to have the shelter prepared for Saturday or Sunday, if it becomes necessary, at the Polk County Middle School,” Pittman said.

Saluda normally gets the most impact from winter storms because of its higher elevation than the rest of the county.

Saluda City Manager Jonathan Cannon said the city is inspecting and testing snow removal equipment, generators and other items the city may need to handle the event.

“We have purchased additional salt for the roads,” Cannon said Thursday.

Cannon also said crews were out trimming streets and trying to clear limbs and debris, which could fall into the streets if heavy snow comes through.

Tryon Town Manager Zach Ollis said reports on Thursday ranged from 1 inch of snow to 10 inches of snow for Tryon.

He said Tryon’s crews have a ritual for all expected weather events, involving changing oil, checking gas, filling equipment and vehicles up, checking blades and saws and buying extra chains, buying extra gas and oil, and prepping trucks with various tools and equipment.

“Tryon is going to be prepared for the storm,” Ollis said.

Tryon Fire Chief Geoff Tennant said the fire department has also made preparations ahead of the storm, including checking and fueling chain saws and equipment for tree removal.

“Engine 27 and Tanker 27 will have chains put on the rear wheels Friday,” Tennant said. “Plans are being formulated to man the station, if that becomes necessary. The public should understand that all responses will have to be made cautiously and at low speed once the roads become dangerous.”

Columbus Town Manager Tim Barth said Columbus is monitoring the situation just like everyone else and the town’s plow and salt and sand spreader is ready to go. Barth said Columbus will have crews on standby to begin work after the storm gets started and the town also has generators at its wastewater treatment plant and the wells if power is lost.

“We are hoping for the best, but planning for the worst,” Barth said.