Area roads improve, but icy patches remain a concern

jmcfadden@heraldonline.comFebruary 14, 2014 

A “strange phenomena” appeared in the sky on “a beautiful” Friday, an emergency official said.

It was bright. It was warm. It cast shadows on the ground.

He called it “the sun.”

“We’re very optimistic (with) where things are going,” said Cotton Howell, director of York County’s emergency management office.

He said life started to get back to normal on Friday. Still, he warned drivers: “Don’t travel highway speeds.”

Main roads might be clear and the snow might be melting, but emergency officials still want motorists to take it slow, watch out for “the other guy” and, if possible, wait until the middle of the day before they venture out in York, Chester and Lancaster counties.

“Shady spots will still be a problem through the weekend,” Howell said. “You're going to have ice in places that don't have direct sunlight.”

For three days, winter storm Pax dumped several inches of snow on the three counties, covering roads, downing trees and causing power outages.

The storm tapered off Thursday, and the ice and snow on the ground began to thaw. By Friday, the sun was shining and much of the white stuff on the roads became slush.

Power was restored Friday for a few dozen Duke Energy customers in Chester and Lancaster counties. On Wednesday, 4,000 customers were without electricity.

Meteorologists did not expect temperatures to drop below freezing Friday night, though some light rain was possible overnight, said Bryan McAvoy with the National Weather Service.

“It’s a little too warm for anything other than just light rain,” he said. “We’re not forecasting temperatures to reach freezing; we should have a little bit of melting” instead of much precipitation on the ground re-freezing.

“Conditions will not get any worse but may improve a bit,” McAvoy said.

Friday, state troopers were bracing themselves for any potential black ice early Saturday.

“Luckily, it’s Saturday and a lot of people will be off tomorrow,” said Lance Cpl. Billy Elder with the S.C. Highway Patrol.

For those who do plan an early-morning commute Saturday, troopers suggest they slow down on the roads and build plenty of time into their travel schedules. Rural and country roads, he said, will still have icy spots since many of them are narrow and have more tree cover than primary roads. Elder said even some primary roads will contain trouble spots.

Crews with the state Department of Transportation worked throughout Friday to tackle secondary roads in the region. Forty-five employees worked in York County; 36 in Chester; and 23 in Lancaster – half the number of employees for each county, said Todd Cook, DOT District 4 maintenance engineer.

“We haven’t stopped yet,” Cook said. “We’re continuing to work throughout the night. The sun helped a lot.”

Employees, he said, were hoping to “knock out” secondary routes by Friday night. He said crews plan to monitor conditions on Saturday and Sunday. Residents, he said, should be aware that some roads will be wet from melting snow and ice.

Jonathan McFadden 803-329-4082

Area closings and cancellations

Schools

The following schools are in session on Monday (President's Day):

Chester County schools (half day)

Lancaster County schools

Clover school district

York school district

The following schools are not in session for the President’s Day holiday:

Rock Hill school district

Fort Mill school district

York Preparatory Academy

Government services

The city of York will resume residential garbage and recycling pickup on Monday

Events

The Boyd Hill Baptist Church Brotherhood's annual Valentines Ball for children Saturday has been canceled and will be rescheduled.

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