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Watch out for black ice overnight

Posted January 20, 2009
Updated March 9, 2009

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— After a daylong snowfall coated the Triangle, schools and businesses were cautious in planning for Wednesday. The state Highway Patrol is already getting reports of black ice forming on interstates as melt-water freezes over the dark pavement.

Skies were expected to clear Tuesday night, but clear skies mean lower temperatures to worsen already dicey road conditions. Wednesday cold will be no help.

roads Trooper navigates slick roads

"Many of us will spend a good part of the day Wednesday in the mid-20s to around 30," WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel said. Slippery conditions could linger into Wednesday afternoon, depending on how much sun shines over the area.

"Lingering areas of snow, slush and ice will continue to make for hazardous travel conditions," Fishel said.

DOT officials said they were "very concerned" about Wednesday's driving conditions and the possibility of black ice, which forms when snow melts and forms a thin layer of water on roadways, then freezes. It can be nearly impossible for drivers to spot in time to slow down.

More than 750 organizations have already delayed or canceled openings in anticipation of still-icy roads Wednesday morning.

“Drivers that are out there are going to need to use extreme caution if they have to go out tonight or early tomorrow morning,” Steve Halsey, a DOT engineer in Wake County, said Tuesday.

WRAL traffic reporter Brian Shrader mirrored that sentiment.

"You could run across a slick spot at any point," Shrader said. "The morning commute (Wednesday) is going to be a real mess."

Get tips for driving on slick roads.

“The biggest mistake that's occurring today – and it's the one that occurs every time we have an event like this – is people are simply traveling too fast for the roadway conditions,” Highway Patrol spokesman Capt. Everett Clendenin said.

State troopers and other emergency personnel stayed busy Tuesday responding to crashes on various highways. In the Triangle counties from Durham east , troopers responded to 717 weather-related wrecks.

If you do hit an icy patch while driving, turn your steering wheel in the direction of the slide, Clendenin said. He also urged all motorists to slow down.

"All it takes is one error, one misjudgment, and you could find yourself involved in a collision," he said.

Road crews battle snow Road crews battle snow

Gov. Bev Perdue declared a state of emergency Tuesday, activating the state's Emergency Operations Center.

Crews from the N.C. Department of Transportation planned to work around the clock, plowing snow that melted Tuesday and salting roads to lessen the likelihood of ice forming. DOT officials noted that they would focus on major roads first, including interstates and U.S. highways, then move on to secondary roads.

WRAL Weather team WRAL WeatherCenter Forecast

Authorities urged those who did not need to drive to stay off the roads so crews could do their work. Rural roads, overpasses and bridges were among the most dangerous places.

There were reports of significant black ice on overpasses Tuesday evening, troopers said. Interstate 540 is a problem area, particularly near Falls of Neuse Road.

Raleigh police responded to more than 100 wrecks Tuesday. On average, the department deals with about 50 in a day, spokesman Jim Sughrue said.

"Everything is getting a little scary. If you are trying to make it up some hills, you can do a little fish-tailing,” motorist Sarah McNelis said of driving in snow and ice.

car Drivers navigate icy roads

Ron Nelson, a recent Triangle transplant from Boston, braved the slick roads Tuesday evening.

"We learned from a young age to take it slow and go easy,” Nelson said.

Nelson said it is not the ice that scares him, but other drivers not accustomed to icy roads.

"You don't want everyone else banging into you,” he said.

Travel at Raleigh-Durham International Airport gradually returned to normal Tuesday evening. One-hundred arriving flights were canceled and 60 delays reported throughout the day. Crews continue to de-ice the airport's runways and planes. To check flight info, visit the airlines' Web sites, call the flight reservation numbers or visit www.rdu.com.

22 Comments

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  • Ibelieve Jan 20, 2009

    I do believe even in the "north" it's often called black ice.

  • Tired Of Excuses Jan 20, 2009

    I drove to work this morning on the interstate at about 45miles/hr with front wheel drive only to arrive at work to discover that many people called out. Thanks guys : (

  • Tired Of Excuses Jan 20, 2009

    LOL...black ice. Only in the South.
    Can't we just call it ice?

  • IceCreamMan Jan 20, 2009

    It's 6 inches of snow, not 36!! If Wake county would have a decent supply of rock salt and trucks it'd be a piece of cake.

  • colliedave Jan 20, 2009

    how can one "watch" for black ice?

  • bs101fly Jan 20, 2009

    "LOL. Isn't it funny that they can never win?"

    The school system you mean.?

    You are correct, they can't win because with people like Chuck Dulaney, Del Burns, Patti Head, Horace Tart, Rosa Gill, Lori Millberg and the rest, there isn't enough common sense between ALL of them combined to even know how to crank a DOT truck!

    To all you hard workers,
    "Even my job is not worth taking the risk of getting hurt. "

    Finally someone gets it,
    IT'S JUST A JOB PEOPLE. You can get a bailout you know!

  • Howie275 Jan 20, 2009

    Just travelled 50 from Garner towards Benson. Just about completely iced over the entire way.

  • StrickDaddy Jan 20, 2009

    IceCreamMan--You are right--what are they thinking--

    I mean how hard can it be to treat every neighborhood's roads in Wake County, and get them ALL ready to take on the traffic of a school bus so our kids can get to school safely. I mean, with over 140 crashes in Raleigh alone today on main throroughfares that DOT has been working on for over 24 hours, it seems pretty reasonable to me to think that it is an attainable goal in just 12 hours so. I mean it's just our kids and their safety---let's cll in all DOT workers to work paid overtime in our budget crisis so we can get those roads ready for school buses.

  • thought Jan 20, 2009

    good grief- please stop with this north/ south and black/ white stuff. Why is it almost every article these two things become issues. Ice/ snow does not care what your income is - how much you paid for the car- what your gender is- there are people from everywhere that stink at driving- can't you all just be happy and accept one another?????????? you are just keeping prejudice alive.

  • Iworkforaliving Jan 20, 2009

    Don't be afeared, it's just snow, but if you think about it, it's just school too.

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