BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) – Black ice is a dangerous foe we experience each season in our region and it’s one that we’ll no doubt see this winter season as well.
Black ice is a really thin layer of ice that accrues on pavement. The moisture that falls is clear and as it freezes onto pavement, it is very hard to see – hence the term ‘black ice’.
The most common type of black ice in our region occurs when snow melts during the day by sunshine followed by temperatures dropping overnight. The moisture that has melted from snow during the day will then refreeze as temperatures drop below freezing.
However, other methods occur as well, including as a result of fog and light rain as you can see in the diagram below:
Black ice tends to form on portions of the road where there is less sunshine and on overpasses first, as the latter spot doesn’t have the insulation of the ground to help keep the surface of the overpass warm. With the open air underneath, cold air is able to cool both above and under an overpass, leading to a quicker freeze.
If you encounter black ice while driving, the USDA recommends first to remain calm and avoid overreacting. Don’t hit the brakes and try to keep the steering wheel straight. Touching the breaks will cause you to likely skid. The USDA says if you feel the back end of your car sliding, make a very gentle turn of the steering wheel in the same direction.
Other tips from the USDA include to travel slowly, don’t tailgate, check your tire tread and keep your windshield clear of ice, snow, dirt and anything else that can prevent you from seeing out of it properly.