Winter storm leaves roads slick, treacherous
Wed, 29 Jan 2014 21:39:39 GMT — The worst winter storm in years caused roads around the Grand Strand and Pee Dee to become slick and hazardous. Through the day Wednesday, there were no reports of serious injuries in Horry County, but fender-benders and slide-offs were common. The problem was a thick coating of ice that turned roads into skating rinks. On Highway 501 in Conway, a wrecker that was sent to pull a truck out of a ditch got stuck itself and needed the help of another wrecker to get going. Trucks slid into trucks and cars slid into Highway Patrol cars. "There was one car in the ditch almost where you couldn't see it. There was a van turned over on 17 Bypass. That's all I've seen today, but I'm going home, slowing down and staying put," James Hawkins of Socastee said. Just from 4 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday, Highway Patrol responded to 1,730 weather-related calls for service, compared to just 524 on the same date last year. A section of Highway 501 in Conway was shut down for awhile around one icy spot, until a Department of Transportation truck showed up to spread some calcium to melt the ice. One DOT road crew supervisor said road conditions weren't the very worst he's ever seen, but close. "Go slow, take your time and just increase your following distance," said road crew assistant supervisor Chris Turner, when asked what advice he'd give drivers. Parts of 501 between Conway and Myrtle Beach were like a sheet of solid ice. Other highways, including 701 and 544, were much the same: slick, and snow- and ice-covered, with slushy conditions in some spots. Highway Patrol troopers were kept busy with slide-offs and accidents, including a rollover on Highway 17 Bypass. Turner said about 15 to 20 DOT road maintenance trucks were on the roads around Horry County, scraping and spraying, and trying to keep up with conditions. Meanwhile in Myrtle Beach, city public works crews took a more hands-on approach, using shovels and elbow grease to spread sand around, one street corner at a time. "Basically, we're doing the main areas first. We're doing Kings Highway, we're doing Robert Grissom (Parkway), Harrelson Boulevard, at the main intersections, where the red lights is at," said Dale Edwards, public works crew supervisor. After nearly 28 years with the city, Dale Edwards knows dangerous streets when he sees them. When asked if he had ever seen winter conditions this bad, Edwards said, "Yeah, there've been probably one or two times, but that's about it. As we move into the overnight hours, black ice is a concern, as temperatures are below freezing- making roads slick once again. Highway Patrol is putting the word out to avoid travel if you can until the wintry weather passes, and if you have to drive, drive with care.