Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Ice Update

It was looking pretty bad at 5 0'clock. The local news was calling for 1-2 inches of ice in our area. For those of you in warmer areas, ice is a BAD thing. Ice is basically rain that freezes when it hits any and all surfaces. It does not get any worse than ice. Trust me. I used to work for the Highway Dept and would be out there in those plows, salting the roads, and ice is the worst of all frozen precipitation.

Anyway, we started out with freezing rain and had a good (this really means bad) glazing of ice on everything. Then, God answered prayers and it turned to sleet. We've been getting sleet for most of the night and I pray that it will hold out. There is quite a bit of sleet out there, but we are such better shape if we continue to get sleet.

Here's my semi-professional (5 years of Hwy Dept experience) opinion on frozen precipitations...

Not Too Bad - Dry Snow. What is dry snow you might ask? Well, first of all it is not a technical term, just a way to describe snow that blows around and doesn't really stick to anything. Dry snow usually just blows right over the road and doesn't cause many problems at all. Now a lot of dry snow will cause high snow drifts which can be bad. I've seen it drift up to a foot and there be almost nothing else around that drift. Keep in mind, we don't live in a high snowfall area.

Can Get Bad - Wet Snow. Once again, not a technical term. Wet snow is what most people think of when they think of snow. This is the stuff that makes good snowmen and snowballs. You can make snow angels and snow ice cream out of this stuff. It's fun, it's beautiful, it's often dangerous on the roadways. If people would just stay off the roads while it is snowing, the plows could scrap this off with little to no problem. However, everyone thinks they need to be somewhere during a snowfall and they pack the snow down onto the road. Wet snow can pack down to the point of almost becoming ice. Plus, when the snow starts to melt, it can re-freeze overnight and become glazed with ice. None of these are good. Melting slush on the road can pull a vehicle right into the ditch. It's dangerous until it is completely gone.

Bad, Bad, Bad - Sleet. Sleet is small pellets of ice. Once again, if people would stay off the road, it could be scraped off fairly easily, but when packed down becomes ice. The real problem with sleet is it usually comes as part of a mixture with freezing rain. It's not that often that you get just sleet. The mixture does not scrape off the roads easy. Sleet is not fun. No sleetmen or sleet angels. It's dangerous to walk on, and you might fall on your rear end.

Don't Go Outside!! - Freezing Rain. It is what it is. Rain when the temperature outside is below freezing. Let me repeat...Don't Go Outside!!! Unless it is an emergency, there is no reason to be out in this stuff. Going to the coffee shop is not an emergency, getting your mail is not an emergency, cutting off a finger is not an...well, maybe that last one is an emergency. Freezing rain means that ice collects on everything. Yes it is beautiful, but it is not something you want. Ice forms on trees and power lines. Tree limbs falls on power line, power line breaks, no more power. This happens a lot out in the country where there are miles and miles of power lines running through the woods. A quarter inch of freezing rain is more crippling to a small town (or city) than is a foot of snow...trust me. I hear people from northern parts of America making fun of people in our area (S. MO, N. AR, sometimes TX) because everything stops for a little frozen fog. Frozen fog is a glazing of ice on everything. You just cannot have control over a vehicle on that. You can drive through a foot of snow with some chains, a little extra weight and a four-wheel drive vehicle, it's just not the same with ice.

Okay, I guess I'm through dispensing my wisdom...supreme knowledge...somewhat helpful advice. Just be careful out there...no matter what frozen precipitation you may be blessed with.

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