Flying ice: How to avoid a smashed windshield, or worse
Tuesday, April 17, 2018, 2:32 PM - Temperatures will gradually warm in Ontario following an icy and stormy weekend. Now, attention turns to thawing and melting ice, which will continue to create headaches for pedestrians and motorists, as evidenced in a now-viral tweet.
On Tuesday, Sgt. Kerry Schmidt of the OPP shared two startling photos of windshields that were smashed by ice in Ontario Tuesday.
"This is why we tell you to clear the ice and snow off of your vehicles," the caption reads.
Both photos were taken Tuesday. The driver of the transport truck in photo on left was taken to the hospital with minor injuries. That incident occurred on Highway 400 near Innisfil road in Barrie.
The second incident, which involved a bus, occurred on the QEW near Erin Mills. Nobody was injured.
Neither driver could identify the cars where the flying ice had originated, so no charges were laid.
Falling ice has created numerous problems across Ontario this week, most notably in Toronto, where a chunk of ice fell from the CN Tower and crashed through the roof of the Roger's Centre Monday, forcing the cancellation of a MLB game between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Kansas City Royals.
BE AWARE: SHEETS OF ICE COULD FLY OFF TRANSPORT TRUCKS AND OVERPASSES
Falling ice coming off of a vehicle or overpasses is always a hazard, during and in the days following an ice event Sgt. Schmidt tells The Weather Network.
While there isn't a lot you can do to avoid it in the moment, Schmidt says it's important to be proactive with your own vehicle.
"[Ice] can become a flying projectile once you hit highway speed ... and the vehicles behind you really have no chance to avoid it," he says, adding there's no law that requires transport truck operators to clear the ice off their trucks.
The best way to mitigate risks on the roads is to keep a safe distance behind other vehicles and be aware of your surroundings.
But sometimes, falling ice incidents are unavoidable.
Check out the damage a falling chunk of ice inflicted on an unoccupied vehicle in New York in February:
PEDESTRIANS: KEEP YOUR EYES TO THE SKY, BUT WATCH WHERE YOU WALK
So what can a pedestrian do to avoid colliding with a sheet of ice or icicle?
Schmidt says the best course of action is to keep your eyes open and peeled towards the sky. "If you're walking under any structure -- crosswalk, overpass, bridge, etc. -- where there may be ice or water or icicles handing down from above, just be careful," he says.
Another thing to keep in mind: Any partially-melted ice that's coating the ground will be extra slippery.
On average, more than 60 people in Canada visit an emergency department daily for injuries relating to snow and ice, according to a 2009 report by the Ontario Injury Prevention Resource Centre. In 2005, Canada saw 21,213 emergency department visits and 2,038 hospitalizations relating to ice and snow.
Older adults are the most susceptible.
Wearing shoes with good grips, taking your time and being aware of your surroundings are the best defense.
VIDEO: SHEETS OF ICE FALL FROM TORONTO BUILDINGS | FEBRUARY 2017:
WIND AND SUN CAN EXACERBATE THE ISSUE
It doesn't take a lot of wind to dislodge ice and transport it to a wider area. And here's something else to keep in mind: The sun doesn't have to feel warm to melt the ice.
When sun shines on ice, it absorbs UV rays that can cause it to warm and melt, even if the temperature is chilly.
Other objects -- like trees or buildings -- can warm up even more and accelerate ice melt which can, in turn, cause pieces to fall.
BEWARE OF PREVIOUSLY-FROZEN BODIES OF WATER
No ice is safe ice, according to Sgt. Schmidt, and that's especially true after a warm-up.
Previously-frozen bodies of water should be treated with extreme caution or outright avoided. If you'll be venturing near a large body of ice, consider bringing ice picks and don't go alone. Make sure there's someone on land who can keep track of you.
Another thing to keep in mind: Thawing ice also presents the risk of flooding on roadways, in parks and on streets.