Black ice, sometimes referred to as “glare ice” or “clear ice,” typically refers to a thin coating of glazed ice on a surface, frequently a roadway. Black ice is not actually black, but it is transparent. This allows the usually-black asphalt/macadam roadway to be seen through it, hence the name black ice. This type of road ice is unusually slick when compared to other forms of roadway ice.
Black ice is frequently transparent and very difficult to see. It is transparent because it contains very few entrapped air bubbles. It is difficult to see when compared to snow or frozen slush. In addition, it is frequently interleaved with a wet road which is identical in appearance. Because of these reasons, it is particularly dangerous when driving or walking because it is both hard to see and unexpectedly slick.
When ice forms on roadways, bridges and overpasses are particularly dangerous. This is because black ice and all other forms of ice form on bridges and overpasses first. It forms on bridges and other elevated structures first because the air can circulate around the road completely.
On other roads, the ground temperature might prevent the ice from forming. This does not exist on bridges so the temperature of the road drops more rapidly. This is frequently indicated to drivers by “Bridge May be Icy” or “Bridge Ices Before Road” signs.
Black ice is possible even when the air is several degrees above freezing point. This is possible if the air warms suddenly after prolonged cold that has left the surface of the road well below freezing.
Black ice is occasionally used to describe any ice that forms on roads and bridges, even if it is from standing water on roads that turns to ice as the temperature falls below freezing. The term “black ice” is not included in the American Meteorological Society Glossary of Meteorology.
Black ice can also form when diesel fuel spills onto a road. The lighter fractions of the fuel evaporate quickly and leave a greasy slick on the road. This slick is difficult to see in time to prevent skidding.
If you have slipped on a patch of ice at a store or other public location, contact the Lake Geneva car accident lawyers of Habush Habush & Rottier S.C. ® at 1-800-275-1729.