Friday, January 25, 2013

BLACK ICE

I pulled into Rogersville at just about sun-up this morning.  East Tennessee has been expecting an ice storm to arrive early morning today.  It came early.  Beech Creek and the Holston River was my destination and the drive there was interesting.  
The lights are reflecting off ice, not water.  The roadway was treacherous to say the least.  All one had to do is go slowly and keep off the brakes.  
The above shot is of the beginning of Tunnel Road and it is covered with solid, thick ice.  If I were to get out of the truck and try to stand on that road surface - I wouldn't be able to.  So, you ask - what is this idiot doing out in this.  The fact is that this circumstance didn't exist when I left home well before sun up this morning or I probably wouldn't have left the house.  Number two - its my job to complete assignments regardless of the weather, "if possible."  I viewed it possible when I left my drive way.  Secondly, I'm this far so I might as well keep going.
The bridge above crosses Beech Creek.  Now, there's some serious ice on this road surface.  I'd guess its probably an inch thick.  The unfortunate thing is that the ice rain mix has just started again.  The parking areas where the boat ramps are located were very icy.  I'm talking gravel.  The actual gravel was as slippy as the road black top.  I stepped out of the truck to see whether the boat ramp was still there and almost went down flat on my a--.
The boat ramp is normally located in the center of the shot below and extends out under the surface.  There is no ramp as I can see.  Was it washed away during the flood waters or simply covered with a foot of mud, as I suspect?
The temperature at home this morning was 28 degrees at 5AM.  The temperature at the  local bank in Rogersville read 26 degrees.  This water is at a higher elevation so the lower temperatures are expected and accepted as correct.



It is really cold!  Then, an announcement came across the radio that a second ice storm was on the heels of current storm.  That's it, I'm outa here.
Now, I always hear about the reasons southerners have so much difficulty driving in inclement weather - snow and ice.  I found the following true for today, at least.  All morning the news, weather service and talk shows were warning where the storm was, the road conditions of every imaginable roadway and one radio show even had commuters calling in with roadway updates.  Black Ice was the favorite term of the morning.  The state police director even said his piece about driving slow and don't make sudden lane changes and on and on.  
So - what do I see the whole way back?  I no sooner got to the four lane, 11W, heading back to Rogersville, when a trailer truck passes me at about seventy miles per hour with a tiny, little parasite car following him with a lip lock on his bumper.  I'm travelling at 45 miles per hour and most cars are passing me at 60 to 65 miles per hour totally ignoring the ice beneath their tires.  Amazing!  Are they aware of the weather conditions?  Hell yes, they are?  The weather was the topic of the morning on all stations for hours.  All school and business closings were announced continuously.  Yet, these people were blasting along as if no road issues existed.   If these Tennesseans don't know how to drive in this stuff - its because they don't want to know.  How many years of driving does it take to figure it out?  The main issue is to just slow down.  The following picture is an example of what I mean.  There are no pot holes, no trees to strike, perfect gently curving road leading up to the interstate.  Its an easy drive.  But no!  Pedal to the metal.  Can't wait.  Gotta go, go, go.  

There is no reason for the accident above other than the refusal to reduce speed due to ice.  It has nothing to do with not being used to driving on ice.  I rest my case.