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Schools still closed as area thaws from snow, ice

Roads slick with ice and snow from this week's winter storm froze again overnight, making for another treacherous morning commute in neighborhoods and side streets.

Although little new snow or ice fell Tuesday, crews weren't able to clear roads across York, Chester and Lancaster counties before temperatures dropped below freezing. While main roads are passable this morning, black ice and patches of snow and ice remain on neighborhood streets.

No major incidents or power outages were reported overnight in York County, Emergency Management Director Cotton Howell said.

"We’re just watching the sunshine," he said Wednesday morning. "We’re being vigilant, trying to make sure we’re meeting whatever needs there might be out there."

Secondary roads are still ice covered across the county. Howell said he hopes it soon gets warmer to melt the ice to slush.

"Hopefully we’ll get a lot of melting," he said.

Moderate winds overnight helped with some road surface drying, according to the S.C. Department of transportation. The interstates are open and most are dry. Interstate 77 is wet, and other main roads in York County are covered with patches of ice. DOT workers continue to treat the roads, focusing on primary and secondary roads.

Aside from I-77, road in Chester County are still snow and ice covered. Lancaster County are mostly dry, according to the DOT.

Officials still warn against non-essential travel, but caution if you must hit the roads to drive slowly. Not many crashes have been reported this morning.

Expecting more difficulty for drivers today, all school districts in the three counties canceled classes for a third straight day. York Preparatory Academy also will be closed.

Winthrop University and York Technical College will be closed today.

In a letter addressed to Winthrop students, Frank Ardaiolo, vice president for student affairs, said crews had worked Tuesday but many entrances to the campus and student parking lots remained icy and potentially dangerous.

Winthrop students will continue to be able to use the West Center and DiGiorgio Center for recreation and leisure activities. Both facilities have been open throughout the week.

Relief from the winter weather is on the way.

While it is expected to remain cold through the weekend, forecasters predict highs early next week will be back around average for this time of year - in the upper 40s and 50s.

Temperatures will top out in the 30s for the rest of this workweek, with lows in the teens. Today's high is 34.

Despite ice on all of the roads Tuesday morning and secondary roads that were barely passable all day, the Highway Patrol reported significantly fewer crashes than Monday.

"We think the numbers are down because people just aren't driving," said Lance Cpl. Billy Elder of the Highway Patrol. "They're following urgings to stay off the roads unless travel is essential. I've even seen a lot of people walking to the store instead of driving.

"There's not much you can do with ice. Snow is one thing, but ice can be more dangerous. It's a whole other thing."

By Tuesday afternoon, the Highway Patrol had responded to 31 calls, only seven of which were crashes in York County, Elder said. Troopers in Chester County were called out 12 times, but none of them were for crashes.

Lancaster County also saw only a few crashes Tuesday, including a minor accident that led to a disabled tractor-trailer blocking Shiloh Unity Road near U.S. 521, Elder said.

The truck stopped as a result of a two-car minor crash on Shiloh Unity Road and became disabled due to weather, Elder said. The truck blocked the lane for about an hour. No major injuries or fatalities were reported.

All major highways in York County still had icy patches as temperatures dropped below freezing Tuesday afternoon, and parts of Lancaster and Chester counties might have more ice on the roads , officials say.

In 12-hour shifts, state Department of Transportation workers focused on clearing primary roads, including federal and state roads countywide, said Todd Cook, DOT District 4 maintenance engineer. DOT's efforts will continue until secondary roads are addressed, he said.

Motorists should remain vigilant for the presence of ice on roadways today and later in the week.

"Any kind of runoff or any kind of melt during the day is going to freeze overnight," Cook said.

York County offices will open at 10 a.m. today, as will the city of York. Clover town offices will open at 11 a.m.

Reports from remote parts of western York County indicated that secondary roads still were treacherous Tuesday. Many travelers were opting to take four-wheelers instead of their vehicles.

Lauren McGill opened McGill's Store in Bethany at 7 a.m. Tuesday. Most of the store traffic was people on four-wheelers buying gas.

"The roads were rough this morning," she said, but they got better throughout the day.

While main roads in Hickory Grove were clear, "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 was still a sheet of ice.

"A lot of people are riding their four-wheelers up to the store," she said.

Nearly 3,000 Duke Energy customers in the area were without power Tuesday morning. By early afternoon, power to most customers had been restored. Monday night, about 700 Duke customers in northern Chester County were without power.

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