Schools and some government offices are closed in Bryan County as the fallout from a massive winter storm expected to hit the Coastal Empire on Tuesday afternoon continues into today.
The National Weather Service’s ice storm warning was canceled Tuesday, but a winter storm warning was set to continue through 5 p.m. today.
Though the timing of the storm’s arrival in Bryan County was uncertain by mid-day Tuesday, its impact was expected to cause difficulties, particularly for motorists and first responders.
The storm’s mix of rain, ice and possible snow combined with an extended period of freezing temperatures could make driving conditions hazardous through today and possibly into Thursday, especially on bridges and overpasses.
And local law enforcement officers urged drivers to use caution if they had to be on the roads.
“We want them to be safe, drive carefully and pay attention to conditions around them and watch for ice on bridges and overpasses,” said Capt. Mike Maxwell, head of the patrol division for the Bryan County Sheriff’s Department.
Though schools were open Tuesday, after-school events were cancelled, as were today’s classes. It was unclear whether Bryan County Schools would be back in business Thursday.
“At this point we are planning to be in school on Thursday, Jan. 30. However, this may change depending on the progress of weather conditions,” said Trey Roberts, assistant superintendent of operations and student services.
The National Weather Service said significant power outages were possible, with downed power lines and tree limbs. Power companies ranging from Coastal Electric to Georgia Power were preparing for the worst Tuesday.
Pembroke’s public safety workers were “prepared and on standby,” City Clerk Betty Hill said. “City Hall offices will remain open if possible.”
Richmond Hill and Bryan County offices are closed, but public safety personnel and utility workers are working if necessary.
Coastal Health District offices in Bryan County are also closed today.
Some companies and local governments were using social media, particularly Facebook, to keep residents informed of closings.
Coastal Electric updated its Facebook page on Tuesday noting it was erring on the side of caution and had put “30 contract personnel in local hotel rooms for tonight,” it said.
“Our powerline rights of way are in good shape in most areas,” the co-op said. “We have cut a lot of the overhanging limbs but we could still experience isolated outages from ‘yard trees’ and tall trees outside of our rights of way.”
Georgia Power used Facebook to offer tips to customers on how to stay safe during an ice storm and urged residents to make sure they were stocked up on batteries and other essentials.
Even Pembroke’s Downtown Development Authority got into the act.
The Pembroke DDA site posted “Stay safe and warm during the next few days of bad weather! Remember local businesses are close and can help keep you stocked up on essentials!”
But while most folks seemed glad for the opportunity to get a snow day, not everyone was thrilled with the idea of closing schools.
One reader of the Bryan County News website responded to a story on today’s school closing with this comment: “Not even a 1/4 inch and you’re closing schools? Not even enough to make a slush.”