Officials warn of black ice and slick roads

Officials warn of black ice and slick roads

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After several consecutive days of subzero temperatures and record snowfall, Middle Tennessee is set to receive another round of freezing weather.

On Wednesday, the National Weather Service issued a weather alert for the region warning of freezing rain and light snow. This warning is in effect from noon on Thursday until 9 a.m. on Friday. The weather service said the snow will continue until Friday morning. On Friday morning, a new arctic cold front will flow through the region, bringing with it another round of light snow to the northeastern counties. All precipitation is expected to end by midday, the weather service said.

The weather service expects ice accumulations of a tenth of an inch or less, and the main impact will be on roads, specifically black ice. The weather service also advises drivers to be extra careful as the roads will be slippery.

Bill Miller, public information officer for the Tennessee Highway Patrol, said they are monitoring the weather forecast closely and taking precautions with staff to make sure they have enough troopers available to respond to anything that might come up.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation will continue to process roads

The Tennessee Department of Transportation said Thursday that crews were working to clear secondary roads, but they would return to clearing major roads as well before the weather forecast.

“Moisture will freeze on roads tonight, even on treated streets,” they said Wednesday. “Black ice is a major concern tonight and in the morning. Please drive with extreme caution.”

NDOT said they have 32 snowplows and more than 56 crews working, plus plenty of salt on hand.

What is black ice and how to drive on it?

According to the U.S. Forest Service, black ice forms easily on bridges, viaducts, and roads below bridges due to the ability of cold air to cool the top and bottom of the bridge or bridges, causing them to freeze faster.

If you must drive, keep the following things in mind.

  • If you hit black ice, your first reaction should be to remain calm and avoid overreacting. The general rule is to do as little as possible and allow the car to pass over the ice.
  • Do not hit the brakes, try to keep the steering wheel straight.
  • If you feel the back of your car sliding to the left or right, turn the steering wheel very gently in the same direction.
  • Deceleration by canceling acceleration. Lift your feet off the accelerator pedal completely and keep the steering wheel firmly in the position it is in.
  • Do not touch the brakes. Doing so will likely cause you to slip.
  • Head to the towing areas. Black ice is almost invisible, but you may be able to steer toward areas of pavement that provide more traction such as textured ice, snow-covered areas, or sand patches.
  • If you slip or lose traction, stay calm.
  • If you end up going off the road, try to head toward things that will cause minimal damage, for example an empty field, a yard, or a soft snowbank.
  • Get out of the way as quickly as possible.

Other ways to stay prepared for winter driving:

Before leaving, check road conditions by watching local traffic cameras. If you need assistance while on the road, you can call the Tennessee Highway Patrol at *THP (*847).

The Tennessee Department of Transportation recommends the following when driving in winter weather:

  • Keep at least half a tank of fuel in your car at all times. This helps avoid ice build-up in the tank and fuel lines, and will also allow you to conserve power and heat in the vehicle if you find yourself lost or stranded.
  • Keep an emergency kit in the car that includes: blanket, water, non-perishable foods, small shovel, windshield scraper, small broom, flashlight with new batteries, first aid supplies, cell phone charger, ice scraper, booster cables, hand warmers and gloves And extra clothes.
  • A bag of sand or kitty litter can help provide traction if you get stuck on a slick road.
  • Conduct a mechanical inspection before traveling, to ensure that your car is roadworthy in the winter. This should include checking the battery, antifreeze, tires, and exhaust system check. Replace the windshield wiper fluid with winter mixture.
  • Do not heat your car inside a closed garage as this may lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Keep an eye out for deer, especially at dusk and dawn. Deer-related traffic accidents are most common during the fall and winter months.

Diana Leyva covers trending news and services for The Tennessean. Contact her at or follow her on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, at @_leyvadiana

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