SNOW: Tips for Addressing Melt/Refreeze Snow & Ice Cycle

2/25/2013

The Midwest is digging out from the recent snowfall, but with cold temperatures you might be addressing snow issues for days, weeks or months. One of the most dangerous challenges after a snowstorm is when snow melts during the day and refreezes at night just in time for the morning rush hour. The Snow & Ice Management Association, the national trade association representing snow removal professionals, has these tips for safely dealing with the snow melt/refreeze cycle.

SIMA's Tips for Addressing Melting and Refreezing Snow
As snow is falling, it's beautiful. The snowflakes seem to magically appear in the sky, the trees are coated with a layer of white film, the snow lies untouched like a large white blanket, and it's silent in a winter wonderland. And then the next day comes... Time to dig out, clear your roof and figure out how to get to a main road using a minimal number of side streets that may not be clear.

"During a snowfall, people get home safely and tend to feel like they've beat the storm. But the most dangerous part of a snowstorm can be the day or days following the event when sunny skies and higher temperatures during the day melt the snow, and lower temperatures at night refreeze the melted snow, creating a cycle of melting and refreezing that could continue for days, causing potential hazards for people walking and driving," said Martin B. Tirado, CAE, executive director, Snow & Ice Management Association.

SIMA has these tips to safely navigate the refreezing cycle:

TIP #1: Watch your balance. Falls account for more than 1 million injuries in the U.S. annually with the most common type being the slip and fall. Many slip and falls occur in the days after a snowfall because of melting and refreezing conditions that create ice.

TIP #2: Facing north. Does your home face north, east, south or west? The direction a building faces may affect just how much melting and refreezing will occur. For example, north facing buildings may have more ice and snow accumulation due to less sun exposure.

TIP #3: On the sunny side of the street. Another determining factor of how much ice forms is how many shade-producing items, such as trees and high fences, are on a property. Trees and other items that create shade may increase the amount of sun/shade the property gets, creating an optimal environment for the melting and refreezing cycle. (I want to generalize a bit on these so people think about it not just on their property, but at other places they go).

TIP #4: Conditions nice for ice. There are some areas where melting and freezing commonly occur creating persistent icy conditions. Typical situations include drainage areas in parking lots and roof gutters, parking lots or other areas with large piles of snow where melting and refreezing can continue over days or weeks, areas where snow melts from eaves and overhangs and then refreezes as the melted water lays on the ground, between parking spaces or buildings, or on walkways with trees overhead. Be careful when passing through these areas, as melting and refreezing is likely.

Following these tips will help ensure that you survive and thrive through winter 2013. For more snow and ice removal tips, visit SIMA.