Bitter cold snap results in black ice

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Winter has sure-enough, no-foolin' arrived with a negative 1-degree temperature recorded at McCook Ben Nelson Regional Airport just before 6 a.m. today.

That's cold enough to be dangerous, as drivers on Interstate 80 were reminded early today, when the temperature combined with precipitation in just the right proportions to create "black ice" near Maxwell.

Black ice gets its name from the fact it is transparent enough to let the pavement color show through, fooling drivers into thinking the road is clear.

At least four people were treated at the Great Plains Regional Medial Center in North Platte for injuries which, thankfully, were not considered life-threatening.

The Nebraska State Patrol said a westbound semitrailer truck jackknifed on a patch of black ice and was soon struck by another truck, a car and a pickup towing a trailer.

The accident closed the interstate for a couple of hours and traffic was diverted onto U.S. Highway 30.

Hazardous travel isn't good at any time, but it's fortunate that it is hitting now, instead of during the busy Christmas or New Year's travel time.

AAA Nebraska reminds drivers to take the following precautions when driving this time of year:

* Avoid driving while you're fatigued. Getting the proper amount of rest before taking on winter weather tasks reduces driving risks.

* Never warm up a vehicle in an enclosed area, such as a garage.

* Make certain your tires are properly inflated.

* Never mix radial tires with other tire types.

* Keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid gas line freeze-up.

* If possible, avoid using your parking brake in cold, rainy and snowy weather.

* Do not use cruise control when driving on any slippery surface (wet, ice, sand).

* Always look and steer where you want to go.

* Use your seat belt every time you get into your vehicle.

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