The South Carolina Department of Transportation is warning all drivers to be aware of black ice while traveling on Wednesday night and Thursday morning.
Motorists should use extreme caution, the SCDOT warned. Black ice is difficult to see and makes roads very slippery, especially bridges and overpasses.
With temperatures dropping below freezing, ice can form on roads. Black ice forms when snow or light rain falls on frozen concrete, freezing quickly to form a layer of ice that is almost invisible against the backdrop of blacktop roads.
Because black ice is so difficult to spot, here are five tips from the National Safety Council, according to accuweather.com, on what to do should you hit a patch of it.
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- Keep at least a 5-second following distance from the vehicle in front of you, because it takes twice as long to stop on black ice.
- Never hit the breaks on ice to avoid skidding. Instead, hold your steering wheel steady.
- Be vigilant in the early morning, when air temperature rises faster than pavement temperature.
- Take caution when driving on bridges and overpasses as well as through tunnels.
- Don’t overcorrect your steering if you feel your card sliding.
“The biggest danger (with black ice) is that you are at the mercy of your vehicle and the ice until your car passes over it,” said Julie Lee, vice president and national director of AARP Driver Safety.
Because temperatures in Columbia and the Midlands aren’t expected to rise above 32 degrees until midday Thursday, the threat of black ice is at its highest on South Carolina roads, which aren’t paved or treated like ones in the North that are constantly dealing with the issue.
The SCDOT is urging drivers to use extreme caution when traveling, and to reduce speed and watch for icy conditions.
It said crews in the Midlands are retreating bridge decks and are continuing to treat interstates to prevent the formation of black ice overnight. The District is monitoring road conditions and bridge temperatures. All counties will continue to man their overnight shift in order to respond to icy conditions if they occur.
While Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Hilton head Island and much of coastal South Carolina in the Lowcountry has avoided this batch of winter weather, the Upstate hasn’t been as fortunate. Greenville, Clemson and the Pee Dee area have all had significant snow accumulation and are at the greatest risk of black ice.
Black ice tips from the City of Columbia
· Check on anyone who may need extra help during winter weather.
· Call 911 for life-threatening emergencies only.
· Remember to keep a full charge on your cell phone and mobile devices so that they can be used during an emergency.
· Motorists should be especially careful on bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled roadways, which tend to freeze first. Even at temperatures above freezing, if the conditions are wet, you might encounter ice in shady areas or on exposed roadways like bridges.
· If you lose power, know how to report the outage to your utility company and have alternate, safe means of staying warm.
· Monitor local media for information about warming shelters that have been opened by county emergency managers.
· Consider the safety of pets during a winter storm by providing a warm place indoors for them to stay.
· Keep alternative heating sources prepared. If you have a fireplace, store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood. Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure your family knows how to use them.
· Properly vent kerosene heaters and keep any electric generators OUTSIDE and away from any open windows or doors to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Also, do not burn charcoal indoors. Carbon monoxide poisoning can result from charcoal fumes indoors.
· Never operate a portable generator indoors.
· Keep fresh batteries on hand to use with flashlights and NOAA tone-alert weather radios.
· Provide some options for outdoor pets and domestic animals to stay warm.