Frigid cold expected in Myrtle Beach area this week

01/06/2014 7:23 AM

01/07/2014 1:16 AM

Don’t expect to see temperatures above freezing in the Myrtle Beach area until about midday Wednesday, according to forecasters with the National Weather Service in Wilmington, N.C.

Temperatures are expected to plunge into the teens Tuesday night and gradually warm up as the week progresses, according to forecasters. New record lows could be recorded in some areas.

Along with anticipated frigid temperatures come a variety of concerns.

School officials in Horry County said they will restrict outdoor activities but otherwise open as usual, while in Georgetown County school buses will be on a two-hour delay. Homeless residents escaping the cold in the Myrtle Beach area were expected to push Street Reach Ministries’ shelter to its capacity.

The “Carolinas take their turn feeling the icy grip of arctic air mass as much of the eastern half of the nation has for past few days,” forecasters wrote in their discussion Monday.

An arctic high pressure, which is leaving snow and ice in other parts of the country, was expected to reach the Myrtle Beach area late Monday and peak on Tuesday night.

“We’re not going to see what the rest of the nation is going to see . . . but there are some dangers,” said Kim Stenson, director of the S.C. Emergency Management Division during a news conference Monday.

On Tuesday the daytime high will hit 32 degrees before falling to about 18 degrees overnight, forecasters said. Slightly warmer conditions are expected Wednesday when the high is forecast for 43 degrees and 32 overnight. And more seasonable weather returns Thursday with a high of 57 and low of 44 degrees.

Forecasters also warn that relative humidity levels will reach critical thresholds Tuesday and Wednesday, so there are concerns about fire weather and outdoor burning.

“Don’t use an oven to heat your home,” said Stephen Hudson with the Palmetto chapter of the American Red Cross. “Check on your elderly neighbors and take care of each other.”

Horry County Fire Battalion Chief Brian VanAernem said while he did not have statistics for heater-related fires in the county, the number of calls increases in the winter.

Residents should make sure to keep the area around space heaters clear and refrain from using a kerosene heater inside unless there is a carbon monoxide detector in the home, VanAernem said. He also warned residents to avoid running extension chords underneath carpets.

“If you suspect anything, smell anything, call 911,” he said. “We’d rather go and check it out than have to pull someone out of a fire or see someone lose all of their things.”

For those who don’t have homes, Street Reach Ministries in Myrtle Beach was expecting to reach the 150 person capacity at its homeless shelter on Monday, said Kathy Jenkins, executive director of New Directions – a consolidation of groups that work with the city’s needy.

“We’re just all praying that everyone who needs warmth and shelter gets what they need,” she said. “We’re just hoping that we’re not going to have to turn anyone away.”

She said those seeking reprieve from the cold at Street Reach, the arm of New Directions that offers emergency overnight shelter, began lining up around 2 p.m. Monday, an hour before doors opened there.

Those in the emergency overnight shelter typically are required to leave in the morning after breakfast, however Jenkins said Street Reach would remain open Tuesday. Those staying at the shelter would have to go to Community Kitchen, which is about a 10 minute walk.

“We will accommodate people all day tomorrow and Wednesday if the weather stays the way [meteorologists] are saying it will be,” she said.

Jenkins said the organization was not doing any outreach to the homeless people who typically camp in the woods, saying most people who need their services already are aware of what they do.

“Word of mouth travels,” she said. “We feel like without doing any outreach we’ll already be at capacity,” she said.

Schools in Horry County were expected to open as usual Tuesday, as no advisory was been issued from Horry County Emergency Management, said Teal Harding, Horry County Schools spokeswoman. She said students should dress warmly because of the extremely cold temperatures and limit time outside waiting for a bus or carpool. The district will not allow outside activities for students during the day.

Harding said the district works closely with emergency management officials when making decisions on schedule changes due to inclement weather, but another factor is the safety of roadways and whether the bus fleet would have difficulty traveling routes, which is determined by district transportation supervisors who check the roads in each attendance area.

In Georgetown County a two-hour delay is because of the near record-low temperatures, said Ray White, Georgetown County School District spokesman. Buses will run two hours later, and classes will start two hours later. He said district employees will work at their usual time, so schools will be open if students need to be dropped off.

Also, during the extreme cold motorists should use caution when traveling and be prepared for potentially slippery road, said Sgt. Bob Beres with the S.C. Highway Patrol

“Watch out for wet roadways because they’re not always wet; we do have black ice,” Beres said Monday and noted troopers will work with state roads crews to keep highways safe.

Beres also encouraged motorists to pack a blanket in their vehicle and if they’re going on a trip. Also, bring extra supplies as well as making sure their vehicle is operational. If someone breaks down, or you see a stranded motorist, call *HP.

“We don’t want anyone sitting on the side of the roadways in this cold weather,” Beres said.

The Sun News reporters Vicki Groom sand Maya T. Prabhu contributed to this story.

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