Winterland ‘to land of black ice’?

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By Jenny Hartley

Kathy Blackmon and her children, Madison, 11, and Hunter, 8, rode down the snowy banks of their yard on a sled on Dean Lane in the Rich Hill community.

With rosy cheeks, the three shook out their gloves and stomped their boots clean of snow before going into the house for breakfast, complete with hot cocoa.

After a couple days off for a winter break, Hunter and Madison got  another day off from Heath Springs Elementary School because of the 3 or so inches of snow that  Lancaster County during the early morning hours Tuesday. Kathy Blackmon got a day off from Founders Federal Credit Union.

“We love it when it snows,” Hunter said.

Their mother does not.

“No,” Kathy Blackmon said, but with a laugh and a smile.

Not even just a little bit?

“Well, maybe. I do like to see them get excited,” she said.

In the city of Lancaster, the streets were quiet as the snow continued to fall about 10 a.m.

Brooklyn Springs Elementary School art teacher Lisa Stamper strolled down Main Street with a cup of coffee she bought from the KMG cafeteria. She planned to spend a few hours in the art studio she rents at Chastain’s Studio Lofts working on her colored pencil drawings.

“Isn’t that snow beautiful?” Stamper said. “It’s just so gorgeous.”

The snow may have been fun for residents, but not so much for local officials.

Lancaster County Emergency Management Director Morris Russell was bracing for the worst as the day went on and warned drivers to get off the roads before dark.

Roads were in fairly good shape early Tuesday, but Russell said he worried that the moisture on the roads would freeze overnight, as the temperature was expected to hit a low of 16 degrees.

“It’s going to be the land of black ice in Lancaster County,” Russell said. “I think we’re going to have an ice rink. This situation is going to get extremely dangerous. People need to make arrangements and stay home.”

Russell said snow began falling in the county about 3 a.m. The northern and southern portions of the county had about 3 inches, while the center of the county received 1 to 2 inches.

“We could end up with 4 inches before it’s done,” he said. He said Lancaster County employees will be on at least a two-hour delay for Wednesday.

S.C. Highway Patrol Lance Cpl. Jeff Gaskin urges drivers to decrease their speed and keep a safe following distance from the car in front of them.

“We’re definitely experiencing a high call volume today,” Gaskin said. “Nothing serious so far, just cars in the ditch, things of that nature. No damage, no injuries.”

Bryan Vaughn, safety and transportation director for Lancaster County School District, said school officials would make a decision no later than 5:30 a.m. Wednesday about whether to delay or cancel school for a second day.

Parents will receive a phone call from the district’s automated ConnectEd system if school is canceled or delayed on Wednesday. School information will also be posted on LearnTV and on the district’s Web site, www.lancasterscschools.org.

“The longer it snows, the more slush there’s going to be on the roads,” Vaughn said. “It looks like this stuff is still going to be around in the morning.”

Contact reporter Chris Sardelli  at jhartley@thelancasternews.com or at (803) 416-8416