San Diego

Black Ice Still Threatening Drivers as Snow Melts and Refreezes

A stretch of Interstate 8 east of Alpine is back open after crews cleared a layer of ice and snow that caused a nearly 12-hour overnight closure, California Highway Patrol said.

Both westbound and eastbound lanes of I-8 from State Route 79 to E. Willows Road were completely shut down at about 10 p.m. Thursday due to a covering of "black ice" that caused several cars to spin out. 

The closure halted traffic and left several drivers stopped on the highway. Many exited E. Willow Road to turn around while others slept in their cars to wait for the roadway to reopen.

Dan Beasley was heading eastbound, on his way home from work when he got stuck on the closed roadway. He waited for three hours on the interstate before officials told him the roadway may not reopen until daylight.

The roadway remained closed through the morning commute, stopping even more drivers from getting to their destinations. 

Caltrans used several snow plows to dig through the layer of ice. Both directions of the highway were reopened at about 9:30 a.m. 

The term black ice comes from the seemingly black color ice gets when it freezes so solidly it becomes clear, allowing the often black street below to show through, according to the U.S. Forest Service

The roads became icy after two days of snowfall in San Diego's mountains and during a freeze warning for San Diego County. The alert warned of icy roads and freezing temperatures that could harm pets, cause hypothermia and kill sensitive vegetation.

The freeze warning has since expired but a frost advisory is in effect for San Deigo County valley, including Escondido, El Cajon, San Marcos, and Santee, and the Inland Empire until 9 a.m. Saturday.

State Route 79 between Viejas Boulevard and SR-78 remained closed. Sunrise Highway between Old Hwy 80 and SR-79 was also closed. 

Cal Fire spokesperson Issac Sanchez urged drivers to avoid coming to the mountains for a few days and if drivers must travel in the area, to be prepared.

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