01 Dec Freezing Rain
Winter in New England can be breathtakingly beautiful, but winter weather can also be incredibly dangerous. Snow poses it’s own dangers and risks, but freezing rain can coat sidewalks, power lines, and cars in ice and is even more slippery than snow.
What is Freezing Rain?
Freezing rain occurs when the air temperature is above freezing, but the ground temperature is at or below freezing temperatures. Snow melts as it falls down through the warm air, but once these rain drops reach the surface they refreeze into sheets of ice.
What’s the difference between freezing rain, sleet, and hail?
Sleet Unlike freezing rain, sleet forms when falling snow melts in a warm layer and then refreezes into ice as it falls through a cold layer in the air. It doesn’t freeze on contact as freezing rain does.
Hailstones occur when snow-like particles form at the top of a thunderstorm. As water attaches and freezes together, hailstones grow, and once they are too heavy to be held in the air by strong winds, they fall down to the surface. Unlike freezing rain, hailstones are already frozen while they fall through the air.
Freezing Rain and Ice Storm Safety
- Stay Home
- If it’s not essential, stay off the roads until they’re safe to drive on. If possible, wait until they have been salted or sanded and stick to major roadways when you can.
- When you leave your home, use salt and sand to create traction and help to break up ice.
- Use handrails, avoid icy spots and walk with caution.
- Icicles and Sheets of Ice
- Freezing rain can freeze to roofs, eaves, power lines, tree limbs, and more. Use caution and avoid sheets of ice that may slip off a roof or icicles that could fall. Falling ice can be incredibly dangerous.
- Black ice (invisible sheets of ice on the road) can be caused by freezing rain. If you pass over black ice in your car, do as little as possible to pass over the ice. Do not hit the brakes and keep the steering wheel straight.
- Watch out for ice damming on your roof and consider having a licensed contractor remove snow and ice from your roof.
- Beware of downed powerlines
- Ice storms can often cause downed and hanging power lines. If you see any, let your power company and the local police know right away. Always assume that downed lines are live and stay away from them.
- If you accidentally drive over a downed line:
- Stay in your car and call 9-1-1 immediately. Wait until the utility company has arrived and de-energized the line.
- Warn others to stay away and put your hazards on.
- Only in the case of fire, jump free from the car by hopping away from it with both feet together.