Freezing rain: Why does it happen?
After days of snow, things took a turn Monday morning as precipitation in Southcentral turned to freezing rain.
Rain froze upon contact with roads, cars, and sidewalks across the Anchorage Bowl thanks to an interesting atmospheric temperature profile. While temperatures were below freezing at the ground and high up in the clouds, nestled right in the middle was a layer of air above freezing.
By 6:30 p.m. Monday, Anchorage police had received reports of 48 vehicles in distress, as well as an additional 19 non-injury vehicle accidents.
As snowflakes fell from the clouds high overhead, they melted on their way down to the surface, turning those snowflakes to drizzle. Thanks to our recent snow storm and days of cold, temperatures are still below freezing here on the ground. The surface temperatures cooled that drizzle down to the freezing point, so when they hit things like the bare road or the windshield of your car they froze instantly.
It doesn't take a meteorologist to know that freezing rain is pretty dangerous. Ice on roads and sidewalks become a big concern during these events — trace amounts can make it difficult to drive, walk, or even see! If it starts piling up, freezing rain can weigh down power lines and tree limbs to the point that they break. Just one more hazard from this not-so-pleasant form of precipitation.
Fortunately, temperatures both on the ground and above will stay below freezing this week with light snow showers likely Tuesday. Stay tuned to the KTVA Weather Team for the latest weather forecast.
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