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“Black ice, it’s so unpredictable:" Tips for traveling safely during the deep freeze

NOW: “Black ice, it’s so unpredictable:“ Tips for traveling safely during the deep freeze

“It’s life safety right now,” Wisconsin State Patrol Lieutenant Nathan Clarke, said.

Even after the snow was cleared Monday the roads remained hazardous with blowing snow and black ice.

“Black ice it’s so unpredictable,” Lt. Nathan Clarke said. “The road looks good as you’re approaching it and by the time you’re on it and realize you’re on it it’s too late. Any change of direction in the vehicle or braking can throw that vehicle out of control.”

Black ice was an issue Tuesday morning in Ozaukee County when two people were hurt in a 10-car accident on I-43 NB near Mequon Road. The interstate was shut down for four hours because of the crash and the conditions.

“We are strongly urging people if it’s not important travel to postpone it,” Lt. Clarke said.

Crews have been out treating the roads, but when it gets too cold the salt takes longer to work. Black ice is possible all day Wednesday, and with the cold temperatures, sliding off the road will be even more dangerous.

“In these kind of conditions it’s only going to take a couple minutes for hypothermia, frostbite, and other conditions to affect your body, so call us immediately so we can get those resources headed your way,” Lt. Clarke said.

If you do have to drive Wednesday Lt. Clarke recommends charging your phone before you leave, bundle up and bring extra clothing with you, stay in your car if you go off the road and call 911 right away if you do.

More tips:

WisDOT provides tips on driving in bitter cold weather.

  • Know the current road conditions, check 511wi.gov for the latest updates
  • Keep the vehicle's gas tank full
  • Have an emergency kit
  • Have extra layers of winter clothing
  • Inform others about your route and expected travel time
  • Clear snow and ice from vehicles prior to traveling

If you become stranded, Wisconsin State Patrol offers these tips:

  • Stay calm, stay buckled. It's generally safest to stay buckled up inside your vehicle. Along with protecting you from the elements, your vehicle offers protection if other vehicles slide out of control. Getting out of your vehicle and walking near a highway is dangerous any time of year.
  • If possible, call 911 on your cell phone. Be ready to describe your location and situation. Follow any instructions. You may be told to stay where you are until help arrives.
  • Resist the urge to get out of your vehicle and shovel or push your vehicle free. Overexertion can greatly complicate your situation, and being outside your vehicle exposes you to dangers.
  • If necessary to stay warm, run your vehicle's engine for brief periods (make sure the exhaust system is working properly and not blocked by snow). Using portable heaters inside vehicles or other enclosed spaces can be dangerous.
  • Keeping your dome light on during low-light conditions can make it easier for rescue crews to find you.
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