How to be safe on winter roads

1 month 3 weeks 23 hours ago Thursday, December 05 2019 Dec 5, 2019 Thursday, December 05, 2019 8:42:00 PM CST December 05, 2019 in Weather
By: Tim Schmidt, KOMU 8 Meteorologist
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COLUMBIA - Mid Missouri winters can be rough. We have already seen, rather early in the cold season, what just a dusting of snow can do to roads and the people who drive on them.

Missouri is a “battle ground” for warm and cold air throughout the winter season. At least one case of rain, sleet, freezing drizzle/rain, freezing fog, and snow can be expected. This encompasses all precipitation types in nature. 

Temperatures range wildly in Missouri...40s during the day, falling below freezing overnight. This will often lead to ice forming on cars and roads.

Black ice may also form after a snowfall. Most notable times this happens are when snow has fallen and is in the process of melting over the days after the snowfall.

Meteorologists will often warn of ice on bridges and overpasses. This is due to bridges being exposed to sub-freezing air from both sides of the road surface. During wintry precipitation, these surfaces will be the first to accumulate snow and ice.

There are a lot of terrain and elevation changes in mid Missouri, especially in Boone and Miller counties. Be wary of ice, or the appearance of water on roads during freezing temperatures. It is often black ice.

COMMON CLICHÉS 

“The ground is warm”...not always does a warm road mitigate ice from forming on roads. This happened at least twice in November’s early season snowfalls, including Halloween. When temperatures fall below 28 degrees, even the top layer of a ‘warm’ road surface is typically no longer warm enough to keep fallen precipitation melted, and ice forms.

“My vehicle has four wheel drive, this weather is no big deal”...while 4 wheel drive vehicles tend to have traction in snow, this is not the case in icy conditions. Snow tends to have a higher coefficient of friction than ice and is the main reason traction will be better in snow. 

“Just salt the roads! Why didn’t they salt the roads?”...rock salts are only effective in given conditions and temperatures, generally warmer than 15 degrees. Winter weather events often begin with rain, changing to ice and snow. Rain showers rinse this product off roadways, wasting the salts. Road crews have adapted over the years, using a combination of anti-freeze products, such as magnesium and calcium which have lower freezing points of 5 degrees to -10 degrees to combat the formation of ice on roadways. They also use natural anti-freeze products, such as beet juice and other brines to coat roadways and limits risks to nearby watersheds.

Reminder: if a 2” or greater snow is predicted, check for posted signs on the street reading “snow route”. These signs designate that the City has priority to plow those streets during a heavy snow and could tow your vehicle to make safe passage.

MAINTENANCE CHECKLIST FOR YOUR VEHICLE

-Check tires, keep them inflated. Cold air will lead to a drop in air pressure. If tires are worn, this may damage the tire.

-If possible, keep gas no less than one fourth of a tank. 

-Check the battery, clean off any corrosion with a brush 

-If windshield wiper blades are torn, replace them. We get precipitation nearly one in three/four days during the winter. You will use them often

-In addition, keep windshield washer fluid topped off when possible. An anti-freeze fluid work best this time of year

 

Here’s a list of items you should keep in your vehicle during the winter season:

-An ice scraper 

-Update vehicle insurance cards and keep in the glove box

-Keep a blanket in the vehicle in the event your vehicle gets stuck, or you get stranded in freezing conditions.

-Keep an external phone charger in your car in the event your phone battery loses power while stranded

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