Freezing rain: The worst type of precipitation. Here's why
Wednesday, February 6, 2019, 1:40 PM - We all know to slow down when a big snow storm starts, or to take caution when you hear and see thunderstorms in the distance, but when freezing rain starts to fall this can be the most dangerous weather to contend with.
In short, precipitation falls as rain and then freezes when it hits sub zero surfaces. This leads to the first big threat - 'black ice.'
Because you see the precipitation falling as rain, the severity of the event can initially be underestimated. Surfaces like roads and sidewalks will not look dangerous until the freezing rain has persisted long enough that you start to see the ice build up.
Here's the next problem.
As the ice continues to coat surfaces it adds weight to tree branches and power lines, frequently causing them to break, which can result in prolonged power outages.
Lastly, it’s harder to treat than a snow storm. You can’t just plow ice off of the roads, it needs to melt or be treated. To restore traction there are two forms of treatment. Either the ice has to be melted with salt or brine, or an aggregate like sand or wood chips needs to be applied. This means conditions will be dangerous for a longer period of time with motorists encouraged to stay home and stay safe.