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Staying Safe with Stormtracker 16: John Hickey slips his way through freezing rain

It may just look wet, and whether you are walking or driving, it could really mess up your day.

Stormtracker 16's John Hickey explains how this phenomenon works and what might come of too much ice.  

Be ready the next time a mixture of precipitation heads your way.  Check out his feature, then be sure to watch his tips!

Icy Roads:

Driving on icy roads can be extremely dangerous.  The safest place to be on an icy day is at home.  If you absolutely have to drive make sure to leave plenty of extra time to get to where you’re going.  Keep your speed down and increase your following distance from the person in front of you from the standard two to three seconds to at least eight seconds.  That will give you enough time and space to safely stop.  Consider buying snow tires or chains to help improve traction.  Oh – turn your headlights on too.  That will help other drivers see you on the road.

Power Outages:

It doesn't take much ice to cause power outages.  As little as a quarter of an inch of ice along with gusty wind is enough to snap tree branches into power lines.  Higher ice amounts can lead to widespread power outages that can last for days.  Be prepared for power outages when the forecast calls for ice.  If the power goes out - keep your refrigerator and freezer doors closed.  Food will stay cold in an unopened refrigerator for up to four hours.  A full freezer will keep food cold for up to 48 hours.  If it's cold enough outside, you can use the snow and ice as a cooler.

Ice Dams:

One way that harsh winter weather can damage gutters is ice buildup. Ice buildup in your gutters causes water runoff to flow over the lip of your gutters and create long icicles.  Another equally troubling problem is ice dams. Ice dams start when snow builds up on your roof - starts melting - then freezes in an overflowing gutter.  Ice dams can do serious damage to your roof.  You can help prevent these issues by cleaning out debris from your gutters before the snow flies for the season.  To keep the snow on your roof from melting, make sure your roof is well insulated, and that warm air is not escaping.

Lake Ice:

Heading out onto the pond to ice fish or skate can be really fun.  But when is it safe?  You need at least three to four inches of solid clear ice to walk on.  Around eight inches is safe for a snowmobile and you'll want about a foot before taking your car out.  Ice isn't the same thickness over the entire body of water so get a measurement about every 150 feet or so.  Be especially careful if temperatures have fluctuated well above and below freezing recently. When temperatures vary widely the ice thaws during the day and refreezes at night making it weak and unsafe.

Melting Ice and Snow:

Warming temperatures and melting snow can be a sign of the warmer seasons ahead – but don’t let your guard down.  Water melting from snowbanks during the day freezes up at night.  A thin coating of ice may form along the edge of the road and at intersections.  Brake early to allow yourself to come to a more gradual stop to help prevent skidding out into traffic.  Also, be careful on the sidewalks if you’re out for that morning walk or jog.