It is noon as I write this, and it appears that the ice is melting from my roof and even on the roads. Does that mean it's safe to get back on the roads?

The answer lies in the weather conditions.

While I was in the military, we had to undergo "Winter Driving Training", and this Southern boy learned a lot about living in a colder climate.

The first thing I learned was this: I don't like it. The second thing I learned: you'll never learn everything about winter driving until you actually do it. Until you actually drive on snow, sleet, and ice, you'll never learn the dangers.

"How hard can it be" is what I was thinking when we started the classes, which were held in September, before any real cold weather hit us. And then it came time to actually drive in winter conditions.

On ice, your brakes are almost useless. Your steering wheel is almost useless. Your accelerator is almost useless. Once you are on ice, you are pretty much at the mercy of physics.

Now, back to the melting ice/snow/sleet: two problems can arise from the melt if temperatures are still near or below freezing. The first problem is from the slippery conditions created by the wet/slushy roads. Once ice accumulates in the treads of your tires, you can easily begin to ride "on top of" the slush, creating conditions strikingly similar to hydroplaning.

The second problem that can be created by the melting ice/snow/sleet: if conditions are right (or "wrong," depending on how you look at it), that melted snow/ice/sleet can quickly re-freeze, creating a very dangerous situation. Even a slight breeze can be enough to re-freeze the water that has accumulated from the "melt". Having that kind of water on a bridge can create dangers quicker than not, as the roadway on bridges has cold temperatures hitting it from above the roadway and from below the roadway (the earth is a natural insulator for roads built on terra firma).

Bottom line: don't let the melting snow/ice/slush become a false indication that things are safe. As long as temperatures are near freezing, danger lurks.

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