UPDATE: Black ice a threat with low of 16 degrees

tstevens@ledger-enquirer.com, tstevens@ledger-enquirer.comJanuary 29, 2014 

UPDATE: 9 p.m. The low temperature in the Columbus area will be lower than an earlier forecast, making it more dangerous on black ice Thursday morning, a National Weather Service forecaster said.

The low temperature will be 16 degrees, said Ryan Willis. "It's definitely a cold night so anything you may have sticking around outside will stay for awhile at least until midday, then the temperature will start to get above freezing and start to melt," he said.

By 9 p.m., the Columbus area was already below freezing at 23 degrees. "From now through when it starts to melt by late morning, it will be dangerous because of black ice. It wouldn't be a good idea to travel anywhere tonight," he said.

Temperatures are expected to rise above freezing around 1 p.m. or later. The forecast calls for 35 degrees after lunch. "The high is 41 so you will get a good deal above freezing," he said. "You should get a good bit of melting."

UPDATE: Columbus police have shut down the southbound Interstate 185 exit for traffic turning west onto Victory Drive.

Officers said motorists were unable to negotiate the curving exit ramp there. Department of Transportation crews were en route to address the hazard, officers said.

Police dispatchers said 70 to 80 vehicles were stuck at I-185 and Victory Drive. An official said officers have been clearing the vehicles for some time, but more continue to get stuck.

This update follows reports that I-185 southbound between Manchester Expressway and Macon Road was reopened just this afternoon after it was salted. Authorities warn the road may ice over again as temperatures drop.

Meanwhile Columbus police dispatchers continued getting more reports of icy roads where cars are losing traction.

Other trouble spots included Manchester Expressway at River Road; the south end of St. Marys Road; Woodruff Farm Road near Forrest Road; Whitesville Road from Double Churches Road to Williams Road; Woodland Drive off Morris Road; Victory Drive at Engineer Drive and at Mathews Street; 17th Street at 18th Avenue by Lakebottom Park; Forrest Road at Branton Woods Drive; the Second Avenue and J.R. Allen Parkway interchange; and Manchester Expressway by St. Francis Hospital, 2122 Manchester Expressway, and at the I-185 interchange.

Bridges on Airport Thruway reportedly iced over again. Dispatchers say crews are attempting to sand those areas.

Officers are reporting drivers trying to climb hills were sliding on ice, blocking roads or spinning off the pavement.

Police Capt. J.D. Hawk advised that motorists would find their progress impeded "anywhere there's a hill," including Warm Springs Road east of Hilton Avenue, Edgewood Road east and west of the Interstate 185 bridge, and the Second Avenue and Veterans Parkway bridges over railroad tracks downtown.

This afternoon's momentary rise in temperatures to above freezing will do little to alleviate the risks, as the thermometer again will drop this evening, he said. The streets will freeze again overnight.

While city streets are starting to thaw, more rural roads remain icy where temperatures have not risen as quickly, he said.

"Everybody needs to stay home as long as they can this morning," said Columbus Police Training Supervisor Chris Baum. "We haven't even been able to get the trucks out to some of these roads."

Columbus police early this morning reported these road closures:

• JR Allen Parkway near the Second Avenue exit entering Columbus.

• West Britt David Road, from the area of Springhill Avenue to Armour Road.

• Tenth Avenue and Linwood Boulevard were closed, as was Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

• Floyd Road from Buena Vista Road to Forrest Road.

• Forrest Road from Floyd Road to Branton Woods Drive.

• Illges Road near Eighth Street

Russell County and Phenix City

Major highways in Russell County such as U.S. 431, U.S. 280 and U.S. 80 were open and passable this morning. The roads are still icy and slick, and drivers should exercise extreme caution. Motorists are traveling slowly on the roads, Sheriff Heath Taylor said. Taylor urges everyone in Russell County to stay off the road if at all possible.

Officials report hazardous conditions on the following roads:

• Summerville Road was iced over and difficult to pass.

• Railroad Street was iced over and difficult to pass.

• The lower part of Stadium Drive, from Railroad Street to Opelika Road, was closed.

Harris County

Sheriff Mike Jolley reports Harris County was "a solid sheet of ice" this morning.

"I highly recommend that people stay off the roads up here unless it is an emergency," Jolley said Wednesday morning.

I-185 was open going through Harris County, but it was slow going with minimal traffic, Jolley said.

"Nobody is going fast," he said.

• Most county roads were iced over and dangerous

• U.S. 27 also had ice patches and was not safe.

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