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Icy roads cause dangerous driving conditions, numerous wrecks

Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014 9:50 PM
Last updated Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014 1:07 AM
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Icy road conditions that led to numerous wrecks and vehicles sliding off roads in the Augusta and Aiken areas Wednesday were expected to persist early Thursday.

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Snow and ice coated Walton Way near Highland Avenue in Augusta early Wednesday afternoon.  SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
Snow and ice coated Walton Way near Highland Avenue in Augusta early Wednesday afternoon.

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SLIDESHOW: WINTER STORM LEON

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SLIDESHOW: SNOW SPOTTED

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Black ice is expected on roads Thursday morning – when the low temperature dips to 15 degrees – until temperatures climb above freezing around noon, according to a special weather statement issued Wednesday afternoon by the National Weather Service. Melting snow will likely freeze on the roadways causing hazardous driving conditions.

“We might get some sun in there to start warming things up and get (ice) melting,” said meteorologist Mike Proud of the National Weather Service in West Columbia, S.C.

Between 1.5 and 2 inches of snow fell in most of Richmond County beginning Tuesday night and ending early Wednesday morning. Some portions of Aiken and Columbia counties measured up to 2.5 inches of snow.

The Augusta-Richmond County 911 Emergency Services reported 22 vehicle accidents Tuesday afternoon through early afternoon Wednesday, although it was not known if all the incidents were weather-related. Beginning 6 p.m. Tuesday, the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office received 24 calls for accidents with no injuries reported.

Across the state, Georgia State Patrol responded to 1,386 crashes with 164 injuries and one fatality and assisted 777 motorists during the winter storm.

South Carolina Highway Patrol spokesman Lance Cpl. Judd Jones said most accidents in Aiken and Edgefield counties were caused by vehicles hitting patches of ice and sliding off roads Two vehicle collisions involved serious injuries, although it wasn’t known if the wrecks were related to weather conditions.

Despite the winter weather, the power stayed on for all but a handful of residents. Georgia Power had fewer than five homes lose electricity in Augusta, Hephzibah and Burke County; Jefferson Energy had one outage; and South Carolina Electric and Gas reported none.

Emergency personnel urged motorists to drive cautiously Thursday morning, especially on bridges and overpasses.

“The roads are not ideal for travel,” said Augusta-Richmond County Emergency Management Disaster Preparedness Coordinator Mie Lucas.

Thursday’s high temperature was expected to reach 41 degrees, Proud said. A warmer weekend is ahead beginning with a forecast high of 53 degrees Friday. Saturday and Sunday will reach the 60s.

WHAT IS BLACK ICE?

Black ice is a very thin sheet of ice on roads that looks like wet pavement, according to the National Weather Service. It forms when standing water freezes on the road. If you hit black ice, decelerate slowly and don’t stop or turn suddenly.


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