No Snow, Just Road Hazards
by: Pat Hernandez, February 4, 2011 3:02:00 pm
Freezing rain fell over Houston and most of Southeast Texas overnight. It created treacherous conditions for drivers, as the nasty mix iced bridges and overpasses. The Emergency Operations Center was in full gear at Transtar, responding to hazardous conditions. Fransisco Sanchez is with the Harris County Office of Homeland Security Emergency Management. He says motorists had to contend with the "black ice effect", conditions that
you don't see on the roadways.
"We're not used to it very much here in the Houston area, but the reality is when things ice over, it sort of blends into the concrete or whatever is used to build that freeway, so you don't see it there. So, next thing you know, you're going out of control, wondering what just happened."
It was a freezing freeway free-for-all, as drivers slid across lanes and crashed into guardrails and other vehicles. Sgt Herb Martinez with Harris County Pct-5 says it was a mess for awhile this morning.
"We've had over a hundred crashes just in the minimal amount of four hours, and some of them were involving police vehicles trying to access these crashes that were already at hand."
Some drivers were stuck in traffic for hours because of all the wrecks. Others behind the wheel found out the hard way that you can't drive on icy conditions at regular speed.
PH: "Sergeant, are you observing motorists trying to do the best they can to try to stay out of an accident?"
Martinez: "No. Unfortunately, it looks like people are just continuing to drive at the regular driving habits, thinking they're at regular conditions, but we're not."
Parts of many of the freeways were eventually closed to traffic because of ice on bridges and overpasses. Harris County Judge Ed Emmett says motorists need to observe detours as well.
"We've had reports of people moving cones, moving barricades, and those barricades are there for a reason. Don't go around them. You're putting yourself at risk and then you're law enforcement at risk, because they have to come to try to help you out."
As TxDot continues to monitor the roadways, applying liquid magnesium chloride and sand to improve traction, officials are confident that a majority of the elevated interchanges will remain shut down until tomorrow.