UNION COUNTY — Like its predecessor two weeks ago, the winter storm system that arrived in Union County earlier this week is creating hazardous road conditions that were already causing accidents Wednesday morning.
The winter storm system that brought snow, ice, and below freezing temperatures to Union County on Tuesday, Jan. 29, created road conditions that lead to the schools being closed that morning and students remaining out of class until that Thursday; Lockhart and Carlisle to cancel their town council meetings; area churches to cancel Wednesday services; and the Union County Courthouse to close early and, along with other local institutions, remain closed that Wednesday.
Those road conditions also caused a total of 42 automobile accidents throughout the county, four of them involving jackknifed 18-wheelers. Two of the accidents involving the 18-wheelers resulted in sections of those roads being temporarily closed to traffic.
Only a few of the accidents, however, resulted in injuries, and none of those serious or life-threatening.
Winter weather returned to Union County this week, again on a Tuesday which saw up to three inches of snow fall on the county. Despite the snow, roads remained clear throughout the day and even early Wednesday morning when the second round of the storm system brought not only snow but ice.
This time, the snow and ice began to stick to the roads, gradually covering them in a blanket of white that made them almost indistinguishable from the adjacent embankments and ditches alongside them.
That blanket of snow and ice soon began causing accidents which required the services of the Union County Sheriff’s Office, S.C. Highway Patrol, and local wrecker services.
Sheriff David Taylor said a number of accidents had already occurred throughout the county by early this morning including one on the Jonesville-Lockhart Highway involving an 18-wheeler and three other vehicles. Taylor said that section of the highway was closed to traffic for approximately an hour while the vehicles were cleared away. He said there were injuries resulting from the accident but that none of them were life-threatening.
Taylor said another accident occurred on S.C. 18 near Union at around the same time as the accident on the Jonesville-Lockhart Highway. He said this accident involved only one car which slid off the road and struck a railroad crossing sign. A wrecker was called to the scene to pull the vehicle back onto the road.
Taylor said that most of the accidents that occurred Wednesday morning were like the one on SC 18, single-vehicle accidents that occurred when the vehicle slid off the road.
Taylor urged the public to stay off the roads if at all possible as road conditions, already hazardous as of the morning, were likely to continue to deteriorate throughout the day.
Later in the day, Taylor sent out a message to deputies telling them to remain at their stations if already there or go there as soon as possible as conditions on the road were getting worse. He said he issued this directive because the snow began to contain more sleet.
Taylor said his office will nevertheless answer any emergency calls requiring their services. He said his directive is designed to keep deputies safe and ready to respond when needed.
The courthouse closed early Tuesday after staff secured all information and all systems and remained closed Wednesday. Supervisor Tommy Sinclair said Wednesday afternoon that the courthouse would remain closed Thursday.
The Union Hospital District announced Wednesday that Heart Day, which had been scheduled for Friday morning in the main lobby of Wallace Thomson Hospital was postponed due to the weather.
Classes were canceled and the staff of USC Union sent home early Tuesday and the campus remained closed Wednesday. Dean Dr. Alice Taylor-Colbert announced Wednesday afternoon that the campus would remain closed Thursday.
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-427-1234, Ext. 14.