Being advised to “watch out for black ice” is of the most ironic weather forecasts– how are you supposed to watch out for something that’s nearly impossible to see?! Despite the name, black ice is completely clear and can be very difficult to spot when driving.

The winter brings many different safety hazards and black ice is the most dangerous of them all, for both vehicles and pedestrians. These useful facts and helpful tips are important to keep in mind when conditions get slippery.

When Does Black Ice Form?

Although it’s difficult to see, black ice is more likely to form during certain times, and there are many different warning signs to look out for.

  • Black ice most commonly forms overnight or in the early morning, when temperatures are usually the lowest.
  • Dew and fog can freeze onto the ground and turn into slippery black ice.
  • After sleet or rain falls on a pavement surface when the temperature is at or just below freezing, 32 °F. Low ground temperature causes precipitation to freeze upon impact, and ice is created.
  • When air temperatures are above freezing, the ground is usually still frozen, allowing ice to form.
  • When water runoff from melting snow refreezes, black ice will more than likely form.
  • Condensation dripping from an automobile’s exhaust is a source of black ice.

Where Does Black Ice Form?

There are common locations where you may find black ice, so staying alert is crucial when you’re on such areas.

  • A light dusting of snow can mask the presence of black ice.
  • Black ice can disguise itself as a seemingly harmless puddle.
  • Shaded areas of the pavement, such as in a tunnel or along a tree-lined route, are most susceptible to black ice forming.
  • Bridges, overpasses. and the road beneath overpasses are also at high risk of black ice due to the cold air cooling both the top and under the bridge/overpass– bringing faster freezing.
  • Black ice loves to show up on roads that are rarely traveled on.
  • During frigid weather conditions on highways, black ice will form from the heat of tires on the road paired with the freezing outside temperature.
  • Heat loss through a building’s roof can melt rooftop snow, dripping onto sidewalks, parking lots, and road below.

Tips for Driving in Black Ice Conditions

If you’re driving where/when black ice thrives, be sure to remember these pointers:

  • Don’t drive in freezing icy conditions, unless absolutely necessary.
  • Check your tire tread or consider having snow tires fitted on your vehicle.
  • Stopping your car on ice takes twice as long, so keep at least a five-second following distance from the vehicle in front of you.
  • Drive and steer your car slowly and steadily to keep everything in balance.
  • Never use cruise control when driving in potential icy conditions.
  • Keep an eye out for shiny patches on pavement. If the majority of the parking lot or roadway is dull in color, except for a patch just ahead of you, it may very well be black ice.
  • If you do hit black ice, do not panic. Freaking out behind the wheel will most likely make things worse during a black ice encounter. Do as little as possible to allow the car to pass over the ice.
  • Lift your foot off of the accelerator completely when you’re on ice. Slowing down will give you more control over the situation.
  • Do not touch the brakes when driving on ice. Hitting the brakes will most likely cause you to skid or spin out of control.
  • Try your best to keep your steering wheel straight. If the back end of your vehicle starts sliding, make a very gentle turn of the steering wheel in the same direction. Struggling against it by steering in the opposite direction will cause you to skid or spin out of control.
  • Keep toward areas of pavement with traction such as spots with gravel or textured ice.
  • Wear your seat belt (duh).

Fight Against Black Ice

Adding these steps into your winter maintenance routine are a proactive way to managing the dangers of black ice.

  • Monitor the pavement temperatures and inspect sidewalks, walkways, parking lots, driveways, and roadways as weather conditions change throughout the day.
  • Place warning cones and barriers in spots here black ice is most likely to form.
  • Alert staff and visitors by placing posters by doorways warning of hazardous freeze and thaw weather conditions.
  • Work with a reputable snow removal and ice management company, such as Winter Solutions, LLC!

Midwest winter weather is unpredictable, which is why it’s imperative to have a team of professionals who are constantly monitoring weather conditions with a 24/7 dispatch. Get a free quote today and let Winter Solutions create a custom maintenance plan for your property’s specific needs. Snow removal and ice management that you can count on for commercial properties in McHenry County, Lake County, Walworth County, and Waukesha County.

If you keep these facts and tips in mind this winter season, you’ll be much less likely to end up hurt or in an accident. Please share this information with your friends and family.

Posted by C. Butler on 12/5/21