Top News

The Journal Pioneer

CINDY DAY: A peek at my Perennial Pet Peeves

No black ice here. Lee Edgar spotted this icy masterpiece along the Waverly road, in Waverly NS one very cold morning.  A rapid thaw, followed by a quick drop in temperature resulted in ice… plain old ice.
No black ice here. Lee Edgar spotted this icy masterpiece along the Waverly road, in Waverly NS one very cold morning. A rapid thaw, followed by a quick drop in temperature resulted in ice… plain old ice. - Contributed

We’re two weeks into the shortest month of the year.  There’s a lot to like about February: the days grow longer, the sun gets stronger, love is in the air and many of us get to enjoy Family Day with our loved ones.
But when February rolls around, there are two things that bug me, every year:  the missing “r” in the month that has two, and black ice.

Let’s begin with the case of the missing “r.”  I realize this month’s name doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, but I wish more people would make an effort to put that first “r” back in.  It’s not, nor has it ever been “Febuary.”
There’s another lost “r” out there and it belongs to the word temperature.  I cringe when I hear weather readers give me the morning “tempature.”   Maybe we’re just getting a little lazy.

The other seasonal pet peeve of mine is the use – and more often than not, the misuse – of the term “black ice.”

I don’t have a problem with the ice itself, but I do get a little wound up about how and when the term is used.  
Yesterday morning, my radio alarm came on just as the announcer was reading his traffic report – that’s when my heart skipped a few beats.  My frustration with the use of the term black ice was back!  

Black ice is also known as “glare ice” or “clear ice,” and typically refers to a thin coating of glazed ice on the road.  Black ice is common in the dead of winter when the atmosphere has warmed up after an “extended cold spell” that leaves the temperature of the ground and roadways well below the freezing point.  Now “black ice” is not black at all, but it is transparent – allowing the black asphalt to be seen through it.  The very thin layer of ice contains relatively little entrapped air in the form of bubbles; it’s those air bubbles that give ice its whitish colour.

We often create our own black ice.  On a very cold morning, when the road is bare and the night was clear, you’ll find icy spots at intersections as the rush hour gets going.  Moisture from the exhaust of idling cars freezes on the cold roads and forms… black ice.  Bridges are dangerous, too.  Moisture rising off a body of water on a very cold day can leave a thin layer of black ice.

The term black ice is often used to describe any type of ice that forms on roadways, even when standing water on roads turns to ice as the temperature falls below freezing.  But sometimes, ice is just plain old ice.

There, I feel better about that.  Do you have a weather-related pet peeve?  I’d like to hear from you.  You can drop me a line at weathermail@weatherbyday.ca



Cindy Day is the chief meteorologist for SaltWire Network


On a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to recommend the Journal Pioneer?


Recent Stories