What is freezing rain?

Dateline article| David Murphy|

by David Murphy

Freezing Rain is rain that turns to ice as soon as it makes contact with the surface. For this to happen, the air above the surface has to be above freezing, but the air near the ground has to be below freezing.

This can happen as warm air sweeps quickly into our area following a cold snap. The air above the surface is flooded with warmer temperatures, while the stubborn cold air left over at the surface remains, keeping ground temperatures below freezing. As the rain falls onto the sub-freezing ground, it quickly turns to ice.

Often, some surfaces will support freezing rain more easily than others. For example, grass may be merely wet while an adjacent sidewalk freezes over with solid ice. Or perhaps, a sidewalk remains wet while a metal handrail or car hood freezes. This is because certain surfaces reach the freezing point more quickly and easily than others. Every situation is different, however, and one freezing rain event may not develop the same as another. It's always important to be on your guard, both as a driver and a pedestrian, whenever freezing rain is in our forecast.

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