News 12 at 11 / Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- It's been raining all day, but soon that water will turn to ice. Bridges and overpasses will be first.
With ice like we're expecting, experts say you should probably avoid roads all together, because what we're about to see could be catastrophic.
"We know at some point, there is going to be ice on the road. There's no getting around it. There's going to be ice on the bridges," warned Steve Cassell, Traffic and Engineering.
Even though we saw winter weather just two weeks ago, experts say this ice storm will be much worse.
"This is a completely different animal. I'll take two inches of snow over an inch of ice any day," Cassell said.
The forecast shows crippling amounts of ice, up to an inch or more in some places, likely making roads impassable.
"Bobby Jones, we know that's going to end up closing. I've talked to DOT. At some point tonight, that's going to be closed," said Cassell.
Crews are ready to take to the streets to keep roads open as long as possible.
"Three salt trucks. They're just going to be running specific routes, hitting every bridge on this route. Turn around and hit it again," Cassell described.
Cassell says they'll hit the bridges first, then focus on the hills.
"Berckmans Road over by the National, that's got a steep hill, so we've got the ability to close that when that becomes necessary," he said.
If you have to be on the roads, billboards around the area will be displaying live twitter feeds with warnings about the weather, but Cassell says everyone should just stay home, even those with four wheel drive.
"Four wheel drive does not work on ice. Four wheel drive is really just for deep snow and mud. It's not built for ice," he warned.
Roads aren't the only worry. Ice can increase the weight of tree branches up to 30 times.
"That's what scares me the most," Cassell admitted. "You look at some of these old trees, some weigh 30-40 pounds, and that is not going to stop until it hits the ground, and it doesn't matter whether your car or your house is in the way."
So definitely remember to look up for those tree branches as well as keeping your eyes on the road. The ice could start forming as early as 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning.
At this point, it's a waiting game because pre-treating the roads is not an option. Since it's been raining all day, Cassell says any salt they put down would just end up in a storm drain.
Bottom line, if you don't have to drive, just stay home.
If a tree falls on a road making it impassable, call 9-1-1.