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Polar Vortex Might Not Bring Snow, But Does Create Black Ice

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – While the polar vortex brings a gut-punch of cold, it also brings with it something far less obvious: black ice.

While snow often cues drivers to slow down, ice is harder to see. And in extreme cold, it even forms from condensation caused by car exhaust.

Moreover, the cold also makes tire rubber harder, causing tires not to grip  roads as well.

They’re conditions Lt. Eric Roeske of the State Patrol says many of us didn’t think about Tuesday. 

“That’s where we ran into trouble today,” he said. “People were driving at regular highway speeds, and when they needed to make a move … for some it was too late by the time they recognized it.”

There were 150 accidents Tuesday morning, including one where a pickup truck lost control and flew off an overpass in the east metro.

“It’s really a miracle that [the driver] wasn’t seriously injured or killed,” Roeske said.

Even first responders were shocked the woman didn’t hit oncoming traffic and survived the fall.

Roeske says if you hit a patch of ice, keep calm.

“Take your foot off the accelerator, don’t attempt to abruptly break or steer, any abrupt inputs on the vehicle are going to cause you to lose control,” he said.

He also urged drivers to take it easy and driver slower.

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