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Heather’s Weather Lab: The Dangers of Freezing Rain & How it Forms

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COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – We’ve had some of this over the weekend and there’s the potential for more of it tonight. We’re talking about freezing rain, a weather phenomenon that costs drivers millions of dollars a year in damages and contributes to numerous fatal accidents.

“I’ve actually done a complete donut and complete circle and landed in the other lane of oncoming traffic,” said Richard Russo, a former New Yorker.

Richard Russo is describing what happened when he encountered icy roads when he lived in Buffalo New York for much of his life.

But driving on Ice for even the experienced, is very dangerous.

“It is an uncomfortable feeling to be on ice in one of these (18 Wheelers) large vehicles,” said Carl Henson with Royal Trucking Company.

Carl Henson drove 18 wheelers like this for seven years. Today he is a makes sure drivers of more than 170 big rigs at Royal Trucking in West Point know how to drive on ice.

And no matter who’s behind the wheel of an 18 wheeler, when it comes to the dangers of ice on the roadways, there’s rules to the road that everyone must follow.

When drivers are driving down the road and they come up on ice, they first thing they are trained to do, is take their foot off the accelerator.

Freezing rain begins as a snowflake, then melts into a raindrop as it falls through slightly warmer air. It remains a raindrop until it hits the ground and then freezes again when the surface temperatures is 32 degrees or below. Officials say education and training is the key to reducing the risks and damages. And experience drivers say the best advice is simple….

“Get off the road and wait it out. You can’t drive on ice,” said Hensen.

It’s tricky because to the naked eye it looks like rain – which is true – but the danger comes when it his the sub freezing ground and ices over.>>>

The most dangerous places on roads when temperatures fall below 32 degrees and ice is accumulating, is on bridges and over passes. officials say the speed limit posted is based on ideal driving conditions, therefore when we have freezing rain it’s clear conditions are not ideal and you’ll want to account for the weather at hand.