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Snow blankets county one day; most melts the next

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By Jenny Hartley

Missy Hinson said some of the pastures at Larkspur Ranch were under 4 feet of water Monday.

Hinson, equine manager at the ranch, said she and husband, ranch owner Joe Hinson, had to open pasture gates late Sunday afternoon so horses could reach higher ground. Older horses were put up in stalls to shelter them from the wet, heavy snow and wind.

“The horses are just like us – the older you get, the less you can take the cold weather,” Hinson said. “It’s Lake Hinson. We could do boat rentals out there right now. It hasn’t been this bad in a long time.”

Quarter-sized snowflakes began falling over Lancaster County about 4:30 p.m. Sunday. Forecasts originally called for 3 to 7 inches of snow, but about 2 to 3 inches piled up in most parts of the county. Hinson said the ranch got about 3 or 4 inches.

Duke Energy crews were busy Monday restoring power to about 185,000 customers across the company’s North and South Carolina service territory.

“This storm has created a significant number of customer outages,” said Brett Carter, president of Duke Energy Carolinas. “Restoration efforts began overnight and our crews will continue to work as safely and quickly as possible until every customer is restored.”

About 230 Lancaster County residents lost power during the storm, mostly in the Panhandle.

The city of Lancaster and Lancaster County governments closed Monday, and Lancaster County schools shut down.

Bryan Vaughn, safety and transportation director for the Lancaster County School District, said district officials decided to close schools and contacted parents about 7:30 p.m. Sunday, based on weather reports and the snow beginning to fall.

Monday was bright and sunny and most of the snow had melted by the end of the day. But patches or snow remained in shady spots, and there was a fear that black ice would form on some rural roads overnight.

Motorists were urged to drive carefully Tuesday morning, and district schools and county government operated on a two-hour delay Tuesday.

The county is under a flood watch through Thursday morning, as runoff from the rain and snow is causing the Catawba River to rise. Residents are reminded not to drive through flooded areas on roads. Just a small amount of water can sweep a vehicle off the road.

Lancaster County Emergency Management Director Morris Russell said the storm was a pretty quiet event.

“I think we were all expecting more snow, based on meteorologists’ predictions,” Russell said Tuesday. “It shows Mother Nature can’t always be predicted.”

The winter storm was reminiscent of the Jan. 20 storm that dumped about 3 inches of snow on the county.  It too melted fast.

Back at the ranch, Hinson said she expected the water to recede in a few days, and hopes a fundraiser horse show at the ranch will go on as planned on Sunday. Temperatures are expected to reach the upper 60s and low 70s by the weekend.

“The 60s and 70s sound good right now,” Hinson said. “I’m tired of being cold, wet and muddy.”

Contact senior reporter Jenny Hartley at jhartley@thelancasternews.com or at (803) 283-1151