Weather 101: The science of ice

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- It's not often the Houston area has to deal with ice, so ABC13 wants to show you some of the science behind it.

Researchers over the years found the slickest temperature for ice is 20 degrees. It has a lot to do with surface tension at that temperature.

For example, ice skating and hockey rinks usually cool their ice at around 20 degrees.

Icy roads are always dangerous because your car's tires are traveling over microscopic marbles or ball bearings.

Two of the most dangerous types of ice are freezing rain and black ice.

Freezing rain coats almost every surface.

Meanwhile black ice is a clear and transparent sheet of ice that forms on the road without any wind. It's called black ice because you often only see the black asphalt underneath it.

WATCH: How to keep control of your car if you hit black ice
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Even if a road might look clear, it could still be covered in nearly invisible black ice. Here's what you need to know when driving in the winter.



It's important to remember that even if the sun is out, like it might be Tuesday, there could still be ice on the roads. Ice, even in sunlight, won't really start to melt until temperatures warm back up to the 30s.

SEE RELATED: Crews prepare for icy roads ahead of potential winter storm

Here are a few tips to remember when dealing with ice:

  • Ice makes branches 30 times heavier
  • Ice adds 500 pounds of weight to power lines
  • Electricity can travel through ice
  • Do not shake branches covered in ice
  • Removing ice from trees can do more harm than good
  • Just wait for the ice to thaw
  • Vibrations from chainsaws can cause ice to fall or limbs to snap


SEE RELATED: Travis Herzog explains what makes some winter precipitation more dangerous

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