It’s no secret that winter roads are hazardous, but not all cold weather conditions look exactly alike. Each type of wintry mix prompts its own unique annoyances and hazards. Knowing the difference is critical before you hit the road.
At first glance, freezing rain may look like conventional showers. This form of precipitation is deceptively dangerous, however, as it transforms into a translucent layer of ice as soon as temperatures drop below freezing. This makes both driving and walking extremely dangerous, especially if ice prompted by freezing rain is covered by a thin layer of snow. If possible, avoid driving altogether during or following freezing rain.
Sleet consists of tiny pellets of ice, which may make a ‘ping’ noise as they bounce off your vehicle’s windows. When walking outside, sleet can best be identified by the crunching sensation and sounds it causes.
While sleet may not seem as dangerous as freezing rain, it can cause its fair share of hazards. Roads might not initially feel slick when driving, but it’s still worth slowing down and taking extra time to brake.
You may not have heard of this wintry mix, but you’ve likely experienced it if you live in a cold region. Similar to sleet in many respects, graupel forms when cold water droplets collect and ultimately freeze on snowflakes. It tends to be larger than sleet, with pieces typically measuring at least two millimeters. Driving hazards are similar to those prompted by sleet. If large enough, however, graupel can be painful or even dangerous for pedestrians caught in its path.
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