Old Man Winter’s icy grip on the landscape brings treacherous travel conditions, widespread destruction and threats to life and property. Plunging temperatures in the upper atmosphere allow falling precipitation to freeze solid before reaching the ground. The sheer weight of accumulated ice stresses structures and vegetation, downing power lines and leaving communities powerless for extended periods.
Multiple winter ice types, including froze-over lakes, opaque black ice glazes on roads, and frost crystallized on plants, present seasonal hazards. Therefore, preparing for contingencies and taking proper precautions helps ensure household and travel safety.
Black Ice Camouflages Slippery Roads
Perhaps the most dangerous ice lurks unseen on roadways and walkways, posing threats to ill-prepared commuters. Black ice constitutes a thin, clear intrusion onto paved surfaces, caused when melted snow and ice residuals re-freeze in the late night through pre-dawn hours. Highly hazardous transparent sheets bond to the pavement, masking traction loss from unaware drivers and pedestrians.
Even minor icing drastically reduces control, multiplies braking distances required, and enables uncontrolled slides through turns. Barely discernible in the dark, black ice glazes joke murderously named “Widowmakers” for sending vehicles careening perilously across medians into oncoming traffic.
Guarding against tragedy requires assuming omnipresence whenever the mercury dips below the 32-degree Fahrenheit freezing mark. Even without recent snow or rain, radiational cooling refreezes melted runoff nightly in prone areas. Drive hesitantly with focused attention on roadway subtleties ahead, hinting glossiness.
Crosswalks, bridge underpasses and wooded stretches warrant extra vigilance as temperatures trend warmer amidst winter cold spells. Leave ample stopping buffer distances and steer gingerly through gentle handling inputs at the first sense of traction fading. Better still, delay unnecessary trips until deicing crews melt obstinate zones of persistent iciness along known problem stretches.