Black ice on roadways a threat as temperatures plunge into teens

A fender bender on Elmwood Ave. near Main St.
A fender bender on Elmwood Ave. near Main St.
A truck had some trouble with the snow on I-26 south of Columbia. (Source: Taylor Kearns)
A truck had some trouble with the snow on I-26 south of Columbia. (Source: Taylor Kearns)

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Roadways for the most part are in fair shape but as temperatures drop overnight, black ice is a real concern for motorists.

Officers responded to more than 1,475 incidents related to this weather event so far. About 817 of those were reported collisions.

"We had a car come through the Main Street and he couldn't stop and went across, hit the guy in the middle lane, probably 15 feet in front of me and spun him around in front of me and I hit him in the rear and sent him across the median into another car," said Joe Bagwell, who was involved in a crash on Elmwood Ave. at Main Street Wednesday morning. "So conditions are bad, if you can stay home, stay home."

Most are minor collisions but are being caused by patches of ice and slush that are re-freezing because temperatures are not climbing. Troopers said bridges, secondary roadways and areas not frequently traveled are the most dangerous.

SCHP personnel continue to be assisted by officers from the State Law Enforcement Division and the SC Department of Natural Resources.

Around 32 S.C. National Guardsmen have been placed on state active duty. Soldiers are operating vehicle recovery teams in support of ongoing traffic response activities and providing transportation support for local first responders if needed.


The message from state officials is simple: Stay off the roads unless you absolutely have to travel.

If you need to drive somewhere, troopers say be prepared, go slow, and tell someone where you're headed.

"Tell somebody the route that you're taking, for heaven bid something were to happen, and your family couldn't get in touch with you, at least they know the route you've taken, they can call us and we can trace those routes and hopefully locate you," said Lcpl. David Jones with the Highway Patrol. Just because the speed limit today is 45, the conditions at hand are really grave. If you decide you have to travel use a safe speed, create a larger distance.  If you see that your vehicle is going into a slide always counter steer from the direction that it's going, meaning that the rear of your vehicle is sliding to the left, steer your wheel to keep the rotation from spinning you."

Tuesday's weather started mostly with freezing rain and sleet, worrying many of the folks who were looking forward to enjoying a day off with a nice winter landscape.

But Old Man Winter finally decided to give us a show. Parts of the Midlands, including Columbia, Irmo, Newberry, and Camden quickly started to get a slight blanket of snow.

Because of the snow's slow trek to South Carolina, only about 1 to 3 inches accumulated. The official measurement at Columbia Metropolitan Airport was 2 inches.

DOT officials say most roads will remain hazardous throughout the day. Crews continue working on rotating 12-hour shifts utilizing snow plows and applying salt and other anti-icing materials.

Here are important numbers you may need during this winter storm:

  • If you travel, call 511 to get updates on road conditions.
  • If you run into car trouble on the road, call *HP for assistance.
  • For non-emergency information, you can call 252-2911.
  • If you lose power -- call SCE&G's Storm Line at 888-333-4465.

The temperatures will only climb to the mid-30s today, which won't allow for much of the snow to melt. Wednesday night's temperatures will plummet to about 20 degrees. On Thursday, temperatures will climb to the mid 40s, but drop again to around freezing.

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