All Weather News

Bracing for an Ice Storm

25 Jan 2013, 12:09 pm

Preparing for the Storm

My least favorite type of precipitation: freezing rain.  Besides a free day off school, I can’t think of anything positive coming from an accumulating ice event.  Dangerously icy road ways and downed power lines bring cities to a stand still.  This is the situation that will be unfolding today throughout portions of the Ohio Valley stretching south to Georgia and Alabama and eastward into the Carolinas.  DOT crews have already been hard at work.

Photo: Road Crews Chattanooga, TN from WCRB

From WCRB: “The Chattanooga Public Works Department got a head start Thursday afternoon preparing for a late-night ice storm. The first order of business is spraying a brine solution on roads in hopes of making them a little less dangerous. “We’re pre-treating all bridges, higher elevations, principal arterial streets in and out of town,” says Tony Boyd, Assistant Director of Operations. Elevated roads ice up faster than low-lying, secondary streets. But Boyd says they’ll get to as many secondary streets as possible. Nearly three dozen trucks applying thousands of gallons of brine, as well as tons of salt-and-sand mixture, will work through the night. Crews are ready to put in overtime to get ready for what could be the biggest ice storm to hit the Tennessee Valley since the 1990s.”

Slick roads developing this morning in Nashville as the rain came down during the morning commute.

Potential accumulation of ice for Eastern Tennessee from the NWS Nashville:

Areas of potential accumulating ice across the region shown in pink:

Ice Storm Warnings in effect for many of these areas.  From the NWS: “AN ICE STORM WARNING MEANS SEVERE WINTER WEATHER CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED OR OCCURRING. SIGNIFICANT AMOUNTS OF ICE ACCUMULATIONS WILL MAKE TRAVEL DANGEROUS OR IMPOSSIBLE. TRAVEL IS STRONGLY DISCOURAGED. COMMERCE WILL LIKELY BE SEVERELY IMPACTED. IF YOU MUST TRAVEL…KEEP AN EXTRA FLASHLIGHT…FOOD…AND WATER IN YOUR VEHICLE IN CASE OF AN EMERGENCY. ICE ACCUMULATIONS AND WINDS WILL LIKELY LEAD TO SNAPPED POWER LINES AND FALLING TREE BRANCHES THAT ADD TO THE DANGER.”

Northern Georgia doesn’t often deal with winter weather but preparations have been underway for this storm and they are testing some new techniques for ice prevention.

From WXIA: “So we can go ahead and test and see how it’s going to stay on the roadway. What happens when it dries? Is it still working well? So there’s still a lot of questions we have with this mixture,” said McKinnon. After the crippling ice storm two years ago, the DOT has been asking states more accustomed to dealing with ice for advice.  The brine was one of those solutions. It only costs about nine cents a gallon, far less than the $2.35 a gallon for the de-icing solution the DOT must use after ice starts to form. The DOT says it has more than 550 pieces of snow removal equipment, but has purchased several new pieces in the past two years including:  38 snowplows, 21 salt and gravel spreaders, 6 liquid de-icing units and equipment to retrofit all of its snow equipment to spread that new salt brine mixture.”

(By comparison, Minnesota DOT has over 800 pieces of snow removal equipment and over 1500 snow plow operators.  Minnesota, of course, has a much great need for this quantity of snow equipment. Last winter MN DOT used over 150,000 tons of salt and around 26,000 tons of sand).

Check out this interesting map of the US showing salt usage and cost by state.

Friday Forecast

Quick glance at your forecast across the rest of the nation features a storm moving into the the Southwest with a significant amount of moisture.  Rain moves through Southern California today and into Arizona tomorrow.

Gretchen Mishek

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