ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — As we climb deeper into the colder months, flash freezes can be one of nature’s sneakiest wintertime hazards for roadways and commuters and is something to keep an eye out for. It’s for this reason that it’s important to know what a flash freeze is and how to watch out for them.
The ingredients for a flash freeze are as simple as the name itself. Once temperatures drop below freezing, any liquid water found on roadways can quickly become ice, which can cause major accidents on roadways in an instant. Since it can be extremely difficult to spot ice on roads, this makes them one of the most overlooked wintertime hazards as Mike Fries at the National Weather Service in Buffalo explains.
“Oftentimes they don’t come with a huge amount of snow or anything like that, they just come virtually by the fact that there’s some amount of snow or precipitation that falls and the temperature is getting a lot colder as it does so,” Fries said.
Even something as harmless as a sub-inch snowfall can cause issues on roadways especially if it occurs right before rush hour.
“That can really wreak havoc if it falls at the right time of the day, with the right amount of traffic on the road, and the right temperature of the roads and the right temperature of the road surface itself,” he said. “When the road temperatures are going down if they haven’t been treated, they can freeze up very fast. You can end up with an ice-skating rink with very little snow in that case.”
The transition into and out of winter can create these frequent thaw and freeze cycles that can be tricky to avoid, but there are ways that you can prepare for them.
Keeping up to date with the forecast, especially the timing of when temperatures are expected to drop below freezing can be crucial. Taking it extra slow on wet roads, especially if you can’t tell if there’s ice, as well as having winter tires can help provide some extra room for error and traction on slick roads. Remember that the bigger the drop in temperatures, the more widespread these impacts can become.
While we’re not expecting any widespread flash freezes with Wednesday’s cold front, it’s still worth noting that sub-freezing temperatures after Wednesday’s rain paired with the chance for some light snow warrants being more cautious while out on the roads this evening.