Staying safe in freezing rain

Published January 14th, 2015 | By

Parts of the mid-Atlantic and Washington D.C. were met with less-than-pleasant weather this week with freezing rain causing dangerous conditions on the road. While this weather in particular wasn’t anything that would cause long-term issues, it does raise awareness into the somewhat tricky yet relatively rare phenomenon that is freezing rain.

As this system passes, Choose Home Security wanted to take sometime to provide a little education into what freezing rain is, as well as tips to help you stay safe while on the roads, or even just walking outside of your home.

So, what is freezing rain?


The science of it

Freezing rain seems like a physically impossible event, since it should really just be snow, right? Sure, but in the world of thermodynamics lies a process known as supercoolingThis is where a liquid substance, despite being in an environment where it should freeze and turn into a solid, remains in a liquid state. How does this happen? For the sake of time and practicality, let’s stick with one substance to use as an example: rain water.

Rain starts as snow when it is high up in the atmosphere, and if it’s cold enough towards the ground, it will just remain as snow. But when conditions are right for freezing rain, a warm front will pass through otherwise cold air, trapping it. As the falling snow, high up in the atmosphere initially meets the air of the warm front, it will turn into rain. But with the cool air trapped, the rain will pass through a layer of sub-freezing air and go through supercooling.




Although it should be cold enough to freeze, the rain water remains in a liquid state since no crystal nucleation occurs. This is because some rain water is free of nucleation sites – the epicenters of freezing.

As the water hits the freezing ground, nucleation occurs, and the rain water begins to instantly freeze. This is what we know as dangerous freezing rain.

Tips on staying safe

Now that you have an idea of the science behind freezing rain – how can you keep yourself safe while walking or on the roads?

Outside of your home:

  • If enough ice builds up on power lines and trees, the weight could cause these structures to snap. If you have any trees on your property, it’s a good idea to be mindful of (and to remove) dead branches that are much weaker than live ones.
  • If you know an ice storm is approaching, apply road salt to your driveway, or anywhere else you usually walk outside. Consider your neighbors as well!
  • Stay clear of any downed power lines, and let the proper professionals handle the situation.
  • Do not try to force your car door open if it is frozen shut. It would likely be best to refrain from driving all together if the ice is that bad.

On the road

  • Your local authorities should have the capability of salting the roadways. If this doesn’t occur, it is better to let temperatures warm up
  • If you encounter any ice, be sure to give yourself plenty of space to hit your brakes. Do not slam on your brakes, as you will just skid. Slow and controlled braking is the safer route.


* $100 Visa Gift Card fulfilled by Protect Your Home through third-party provider, Mpell, upon installation of a security system. Shipping and Handling Fee applies. ADT Pulse Interactive Solutions Services, which help you manage your home environment and family lifestyle, requires the purchase and/or activation of an ADT alarm system with monitored burglary service and a compatible computer, cell phone or PDA with Internet and email access. These ADT Pulse Interactive Solutions Services do not cover the operation or maintenance of any household equipment/systems that are connected to the ADT Pulse Interactive Solutions Services/Equipment. All ADT Pulse Interactive Solutions Services are not available with the various levels of ADT Pulse Interactive Solutions Services. All ADT Pulse Interactive Solutions Services may not be available in all geographic areas. You may be required to pay additional charges to purchase equipment required to utilize the ADT Pulse Interactive Solutions Services features you desire. Installation starts at $199. Burglary, Fire, Carbon Monoxide and Medical Alert monitoring requires purchase and/or activation of an ADT security system with monitored Burglary, Fire, Carbon Monoxide and Medical Alert devices. Fire, Carbon Monoxide and Medical Alert services are an additional charge. Quality Service Plan (QSP) is ADT's Extended Limited Warranty. 36-month monitoring contract required from $51.99 per month, ($1,871.64), including Quality Service Plan (QSP). Additional charges may apply in areas that require guard response service for municipal alarm verification. Prices subject to change. Prices may vary by market. Some insurance companies offer discounts on Homeowner's Insurance. Please consult your insurance company. Local permit fees may be required. Satisfactory credit history required. Additional monitoring fees required for some services. Photos are for illustrative purposes only and may not reflect the exact product/service actually provided. $99 Customer Installation Charge. 36-Month Monitoring Agreement required at $36.99 per month (1,331.64), 24-Month Monitoring Agreement required at $36.99 ($887.76) for California, including Quality Service Plan (QSP). Form of payment must be by credit card of electronic charge to your checking or savings account. Offer applies to homeowners only. Local permit fees may be required. Satisfactory credit history required. Certain restrictions may apply. Offer valid for new ADT Authorized Premier Provider customers only and not on purchases from ADT LLC. Other rate plans available. Cannot be combined with any other offer. Licenses: AL-17-1104, AZ-ROC217517, AR-2008-0014, CA-ACO6320, CT-ELC.0193944-L5, DE-07-212, FL-EC13003427, DC-602513000006, GA-LVA205395, ID-ELE-SC-39312, IL- 127.001042, IN-City of Indianapolis: LAC-000156, IA-AC-0036, KY-City of Louisville: 483, LA-F1082, LA-F1914, LA-F1915, ME-LM50017382, MD-107-1626, MA-1355C, MI- 3601205773, MN-TS01807, MS-15007958, MO-City of St. Louis: CC354, St. Louis County: 84959, MT-247, NE-14451, NV-68518, City of Las Vegas: 3000002944, NJ-34BF00021800, NM- 353366, NY-Licensed by the N.Y.S. Dept. of State UID#12000317691, #12000286451, NC-1622- CSA, OH-53891446, City of Cincinnati: AC86, OK-1048, OR-170997, Pennsylvania Home Improvement Contractor Registration Number: PA022999, RI-3582, SC-BAC5630, SD-1025- 7001-ET, TN-1520, TX-B13734, ACR-3492, UT-6422596-6501, VT-ES-2382, VA-115120, WA- 602588694/PROTEYH934RS, WV-042433, WI-City of Milwaukee: PAS-0002790, WY-LV-G- 21499. 3750 Priority Way South Dr. Suite 200 Indianapolis, IN 46240