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Icy roads linger in York County

Drivers continue to see icy roads as South Carolina begins to dig itself out of Monday's snow storm.

Some road conditions are improving as the temperature rises closer to the freezing mark, but a refreeze is expected overnight making for another round of slippery streets.

Main roads in northern York County are passable, officials said, but secondary roads and neighborhood streets remain icy. Many people couldn't get out of their own driveways, much less down the ice covered roads.

In western York County, many travelers are opting to take four-wheelers instead of their vehicles.

In Hickory Grove, “the back roads are still pretty bad,” said Martha Stephenson who works at C & M Convenience Store. All day she watched trucks slide in the parking lot, which is still a sheet of ice, she said.

“A lot of people are riding their four-wheelers up to the store,” either leaving their cars at home or only venturing out in four-wheel drive vehicles, she said.

In the Town of Fort Mill, Massey Street remains closed, the northern stretch of Steele Street is closed near the Avery Lakes neighborhood, and Fairway Drive remains closed to all but local traffic for residents.

A stretch of Springfield Parkway north from S.C. 160 was closed after icy conditions caused several vehicles to slide off that busy road, but it is now-reopened, said Ken Kerber, Fort Mill fire chief.

In Tega Cay, with hilly, narrow streets and just two spreaders and one snow plow for the municipality, crews have been able to make some headway on the main arteries but smaller residential streets remain slick, said Charlie Funderburk, Tega Cay operations manager.

"It is challenging, to say the least," Funderburk said. "We are getting more done as the day goes along, but the threat of refreezing concerns us."

All major highways in York County still have ice patches this afternoon, and parts of Lancaster and Chester counties may have more ice on the roads due to heavier snowfalls, officials say.

In 12 hour shifts, South Carolina Department of Transportation workers are mainly focused on clearing primary, high-trafficked roadways, including federal and state roads county-wide, said Todd Cook, SCDOT district 4 maintenance engineer.

Secondary roads are not yet their focus, and DOT efforts will continue until those roadways are addressed, he said.

Regardless of whether roads are scraped, motorists should be wary of black ice tomorrow and later in the week.

"Any kind of run off or any kind of melt during the day is going to freeze overnight," he said.

Emergency crews in the region were concerned about ice on the roads, power lines and trees. Icy power lines and tree limbs increase the chances of power outages.

More than 1,800 Duke Energy customers lost power in York County, but as of 2:45 p.m. all power was restored. Dozens are still without power in Chester and Lancaster counties.

Officials caution to stay off the roads unless travel is essential.

York County Director of Emergency Management Cotton Howell said York County had a fairly quiet day so far — free of significant incidents. He was, however, concerned about road conditions.

"It’s extremely treacherous. There are places that look wet, and it’s just a solid piece of ice," Howell said. "We’re still holding our breath on what today’s going to bring."

Howell said the Duke Energy power outages appear to be in the Lesslie area.

Chester County Emergency Management Director Eddie Murphy said the roads are mostly solid ice.

"We have a few spots of dry," he said. "For the most part, it's solid pieces of ice."

Overnight, northern Chester County had a "major" power outage of nearly 700 in the Edgemoor area. Those outages have been restored, but another couple hundred are still without power from a separate outage this morning.

While no major crashes or incidents have been reported in Chester County, firetrucks had to assist ambulances on most medical calls last night as ambulances were getting stuck in several instances, Murphy said.

S.C. Department of Transportation officials say they have generally held off the formation of black ice on Interstate 77 in York County and traffic is moving.

I- 77 from the North Carolina state line to Dave Lyle Boulevard, exit 79, is clear with all four lanes open in each direction. Traffic this morning was light, and most traffic was well below the 60 MPH speed limit.

Dave Lyle from the Interstate to downtown Rock Hill - normally one of the city's most traveled streets - had a few spots where there were patches of ice, but had two lanes open in each direction. Traffic along Dave Lyle was light.

Other roads throughout the counties are covered with ice patches. Most side and back streets are still snow covered. The DOT continues plowing as needed and treating roads and bridges with anti-icing materials.

Countless crashes throughout the tri-county area kept law enforcement and emergency responders busy Monday, but no deadly crashes were reported.

Icy conditions are expected to hang around until tomorrow, as today's high --34 degrees -- won't get warm enough to melt snow and ice that has blanketed the region.

Schools thorough the region are canceled for a second straight day, and Chester County leaders have canceled classes for Wednesday.

Utility trucks are poised to treat and clear Rock Hill roads, deal with power outages and downed trees, he said. The priorities are keeping the main roads clear, roads near Piedmont Medical Center and fire departments.

"The main problem is freezing rain and drizzle putting a glaze on things. It'll be pretty - and pretty dangerous," said Scott Krentz, meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

Gov. Mark Sanford has declared a state of emergency. As part of the emergency, about 40 National Guard soldiers from the 178th Combant Engineer Battalion based in Rock Hill were activated to assist the highway patrol in helping motorists, said Maj. Corla Dobson, the battalion's chief executive officer.

Numerous wrecks were reported Monday, but there were no fatalities.

Monday's snow started at 2:30 a.m. and ended in the mid-afternoon with accumulations ranging from four inches in Rock Hill and York to six inches in Lancaster County, Lake Wylie and Tega Cay.

The storm was moving faster than forecasters had predicted.

It's tricky "to pin down the exact hour, especially in a widespread storm like this one," Krentz said. "Just about everything panned out as expected on Monday. We got about as much snow as we expected from this storm."

Crews worked hard to keep main roads cleared but most secondary roads and neighborhood streets stayed largely untouched.

"Even with a four-wheel drive, it is slick and terrible out there," said Capt. Bruce Byrnes of the Flint Hill Fire Department.

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