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What Is Black Ice?


Question: What Is Black Ice?
Here in Memphis, winter weather is pretty minimal. We get a few (if any) inches of snow each year and a few occurrences of freezing rain or sleet. The most common winter weather hazard around here is black ice. So just what is black ice and what should you do if you encounter it?
Answer: Black ice is a thin layer of very clear ice that accumulates especially on bridges and overpasses, but also on streets and sidewalks. It gets its name because its transparency allows you to see straight through to the black asphalt. It is very difficult to see and sometimes looks like a wet spot in the road. In fact, many people do not even notice the black ice until they are skidding across it.

In the winter months, be sure to listen to traffic reports for black ice warnings before heading out. Anytime the temperature is around the freezing mark or colder, be particularly careful on bridges but watch for any areas on the road that appear damp or have a slight sheen to them. If you do find yourself on a patch of black ice, do not brake or accelerate, either of which can cause you to skid. Instead, attempt to coast over the patch. If you do begin to skid, turn your wheel into the skid to avoid a spin-out.

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