Winter Weather Myth: BUSTED!

Winter Weather Myth:  BUSTED!

I noticed when flipping through the channels during the Jan 27/28 ice event (the stations I watched shall remain nameless, but I’m not referring to KXII), and also from talking to folks on the street, of a prevailing myth I’d like to debunk.

The myth goes something like this:

“It must be 32 degrees (freezing) or above to get ice to melt off of the roads even if the sun is shining”

 FALSE!

See the graphic I have prepared above.  Sun shines on concrete or asphalt paving materials. The solar energy can reach the pavement even through ice that’s quite thick. The road surface heats much more rapidly than the air due to its density and the material it is made of; so even though your backyard thermometer may say “25 degrees”, the road surface will likely be wet and not icy if the sun has been out for a while.

I witnessed this personally on the morning of January 28th when my thermometer read 24 and yet most of the ice had melted on the side street in front of my house. This effect doesn’t work if the road surface is in the shade. I noticed during the winter weather event patches of ice hunkered in the shade while the sun-exposed areas were totally ice free and dry.

Naturally, a cloudy day is a different story, and the effect doesn't work very well once temperatures get REALLY cold...like 10 degrees. -J

As always...please take it easy behind the wheel!

Steve LaNore

Chief Meteorologist

KXII-TV

 

 

 

 

 

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