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Been steelhead fishing once
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359 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I will start with a disclaimer that I just moved here and am quite ignorant of black ice. Forgive me if this is a foolish set of questions.

So I had a co-worker pretty much scare the shit out of me on Friday talking about black ice. I commute from PT to Sequim. He asked when I was getting my winter tires put on. I asked what he was talking about. He gasped and said, "You don't know about black ice?" Well I had heard of it in Maine but it's not really a problem there with all the salting they do on the roads.

1) Is black ice a serious issue out here on the OP?
2) What are the ways to avoid it?
3) Can a certain tire really provide traction on ice? (assuming there are not metal studs)
4) Are there certain places to look for it?
5) Are there certain weather patterns that lead to it?
6) Anything else you can add to keep me up at night worried about black ice...

Much thanks.
 

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Premium Member
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7,341 Posts
Yes, black ice takes a number of lives every winter. One of the best ways to neutralize it is to slow down but most folks haven't figured that out yet. There are definitely tires that are better for the job but again-most people think All-Season tires are just that. They are not. Bridgestone Blizzaks and Michelin X Ice radials are the best of the bunch but have distinct differences. Look before you leap. Black ice can occur most anywhere but is often more prevalent in areas that receive no sunlight in the winter. With no solar gain these areas freeze up earlier and hold ice longer. And of course black ice will occur when temps drop suddenly after a rain. Another place to look out for it is after a bright sunny day with temps falling rapidly after sunset. In places where there is snow on the ground and alongside the road the snow inevitably thaws and the water runs across the road. You might not be thinking of a frozen road after such a nice day but once the temp becomes freezing the hazard is ever present.

I live on the Frozen Tundra and have 5 months of this stuff every year. Where you are in the Banana Belt it is not nearly so serious. Buy a set of dedicated winter tires and wheels and get those crappy all season skidders in the garage where they belong in winter. Probably less than $1000 for both and your chances will be much better. Just one fender bender and the accompanying loss of use and inconvenience will make the expense of winter tires seem like mouse nuts in comparison.

Over here on the east side Spokane will be getting it's first snow in a few weeks and there will be dozens of accidents. People don't seem to figure out winter driving until about Feb it seems and by then the body shops are so backed up you won't get your car fixed till spring. It pays to have at least two rigs.....
 

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Dumbfounded
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10,887 Posts
I hate black ice and find it more dangerous than any other weather condition. Give me snow any day over black ice.

Normally the weather service will post a black ice warning but what you want to look for is rain during freezing conditions. Instead of snow, the moisture comes down partially frozen and then freezes absolutely clear on the roads. You normally don't even know it is there until you try to turn, stop or accelerate.

Using studded tires for my part of the country isn't really practical because 95% of the time we don't need studs in the Willamette Valley. Plus, black ice comes and goes fairly quickly, unlike some snow. So, driving around with studded snow tires all winter is not practical for me. My vehicle is a 4X4 Explorer and in 4 wheel drive, all the tires can spin on black ice. So while there is some advantage to a 4X4 on black ice, there are times it may not help that much.

I speak from experience.

The Columbia River Gorge is notorious for black ice starting just about now. When the temperatures drop to freezing, avoid the Gorge is you can.

If you find yourself suddenly driving on black ice, about the only thing you can do is slow down to a crawl and don't make any sudden stops or stops. In fact, if you come to a stop sign or stop light and there is no cross traffic, very slowly keep moving. If you stop on black ice you may not be able to start again and your tires will just spin.

On the East side of the Cascades, black ice may be under the overpasses and nowhere else so watch out for that.

The one word to remember if you end up on black ice is "crawl".

I really, really hate black ice...
 

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Been steelhead fishing once
Joined
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359 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks a ton for the input already. I think putting on some winter tires may be the way to go this winter. For my last job in Maine I just didn't drive if it seemed sketchy. I'd walk to work which was doable. Now that I commute this isn't possible. Thanks again.

Other tire recommendations would appreciated by others. I know this is just an opinion but almost everything on these forums is opinion-based.

Anyone that regularly drives 101 on the OP could chime... Thanks.
 

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I fish
Joined
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268 Posts
From January. 41F, road clear, sunny.
I came around the corner and my Tacoma went into the shade of the hill on the right hand side.
Truck downshifted and went squirrely. I steered through it for 200 feet while scrubbing speed before hitting the barrier and tipping over. I was only going about 30 mph at that point but the truck slid for another 60 feet.
Truck was totaled but no injuries whatsoever.
I was going too fast and was not expecting black ice.

 

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Registered
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3,852 Posts
You might consider a bag of salt or sand in the trunk, for those special occasions when Jack Frost makes his presence known.
It might save the day if you get stuck in a tight place.
Dew fall and condensation can cause black ice in protected areas that get no heat from solar sources when the temps are at freezing or below.

Also, speed is not your friend in black ice conditions.
 

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Been steelhead fishing once
Joined
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359 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Sheesh! Okay, this is for real.

So shady areas and watch the dew point the night before. Got it.

Googling winter tires right meow.
 

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Registered
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327 Posts
Yes, black ice takes a number of lives every winter. One of the best ways to neutralize it is to slow down but most folks haven't figured that out yet. There are definitely tires that are better for the job but again-most people think All-Season tires are just that. They are not. Bridgestone Blizzaks and Michelin X Ice radials are the best of the bunch but have distinct differences. Look before you leap. Black ice can occur most anywhere but is often more prevalent in areas that receive no sunlight in the winter. With no solar gain these areas freeze up earlier and hold ice longer. And of course black ice will occur when temps drop suddenly after a rain. Another place to look out for it is after a bright sunny day with temps falling rapidly after sunset. In places where there is snow on the ground and alongside the road the snow inevitably thaws and the water runs across the road. You might not be thinking of a frozen road after such a nice day but once the temp becomes freezing the hazard is ever present.

I live on the Frozen Tundra and have 5 months of this stuff every year. Where you are in the Banana Belt it is not nearly so serious. Buy a set of dedicated winter tires and wheels and get those crappy all season skidders in the garage where they belong in winter. Probably less than $1000 for both and your chances will be much better. Just one fender bender and the accompanying loss of use and inconvenience will make the expense of winter tires seem like mouse nuts in comparison.

Over here on the east side Spokane will be getting it's first snow in a few weeks and there will be dozens of accidents. People don't seem to figure out winter driving until about Feb it seems and by then the body shops are so backed up you won't get your car fixed till spring. It pays to have at least two rigs.....
Nicely done.
 

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Stop Killing Wild Steelhead!
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5,673 Posts
If you are driving anywhere in the greater metropolitan Seattle area, or out here on the Peninsula, this is a very helpful real-time tool for watching road temperatures. Air temperature readings are not the same thing. Try the greater metro setting, and the full domain setting on this map. You'll see what I am talking about right away.

http://www.atmos.washington.edu/SNOWWATCH/

I have spent the last 16 winters driving around Port Townsend, highway 101, Port Angeles, Sequim, Forks, etc. During winter steelhead seasons I have driven these roads countless times, in the dark, freezing rain, snow, hail, fog etc. In my experience, fog and freezing conditions are a deadly combination. The ground and roads can be freezing cold, the air 35 to 40 degrees, and the fog condenses on the road and freezes, often developing a thick, wet frozen glaze. It might as well be raining on ice.

I grew up driving in New York, New England, etc. I had a good foundation in winter driving. So it came as a shock to me that they barely do anything to treat our roads here. Apparently it is more cost effective to allow people to crash than it is to apply traction sand and rock salt etc.

How I have survived here so far here.

Assume that NO ONE HERE KNOWS HOW TO DRIVE ON SNOW OR ICE! So you have to drive defensively. I have passed firetrucks, tow trucks, police cars and ambulances that were off of the road in the ditches. I have seen the Jefferson County Transit buses slide, spinning, all of the way down Sims Way into the intersection by the Boat Haven. That's at least 1/4 mile. You can't trust anyone here to drive safely in the winter.

Four wheel drive and four studded tires.

Never drive fast enough to slide on the ice or lose complete control. This can mean that in some situations 15 mph will be too fast. I have pulled over for people who were tailgating me, only to pass them down the road after they ended up in a ditch.

Allow more stopping distance than you think you need. Much more. 3 to 4 seconds traveling distance between vehicles is the minimum for a clean, flat, dry road. So it increases significantly with road surface traction loss.

None of this applies to Seattle or I-5. Magically, they can drive 70-80 mph, on wet icy roads, bumper-to-bumper, with no concern at all.

Welcome to Gemorrah-On-Puget.
 

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Custom Title
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12,145 Posts
black ice may be under the overpasses and nowhere else so watch out for that.
Black ice also forms on top of overpasses. Cold air flowing over & around the structure can create conditions for black ice to form there more quickly than on the adjacent road surfaces.
 

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Moved to https://pnwflyfish.com
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3,286 Posts
Slow down and get some good winter tires if you're worried about it. Look for high quality studless snow tires as the majority of the winter you'll just be driving on wet roads. Bridgestone Blizzak, Michelin X-Ice Xi3, etc. Winter tires are not required around here, but they do add a good amount grip in slick conditions. As I hinted before though, the majority of the winter the roads will be wet (still slick) but not icy. Whenever the temp is getting around freezing (<40) watch for ice on bridges, shadowy areas, etc. It's not as much of a problem (as often) as some might be making it out to be, so don't fret over it.
 

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Have you swung a fly today?-
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480 Posts
If you find yourself suddenly driving on black ice, about the only thing you can do is slow down to a crawl and don't make any sudden stops or stops. In fact, if you come to a stop sign or stop light and there is no cross traffic, very slowly keep moving. If you stop on black ice you may not be able to start again and your tires will just spin.

On the East side of the Cascades, black ice may be under the overpasses and nowhere else so watch out for that.

The one word to remember if you end up on black ice is "crawl".

I really, really hate black ice...
Good advise. I grew up in snow and freezing rain snow melt freeze. Ice and snow are better than black ice

Black Ice is a film of frozen water on a road that is transparent aND smooth.

I destroyed a car between Cody wy and fuckingnowhere Mt. Light rain then fluffy snow and even more deadly combo.....like dust on a window

That said not sure spiked tires are that great Cuz black ice conditions occur in frequently.

Usually over passes, off ramps on ramps .....anywhere a thin layer of water can freeze instantly with a sudden drop in temp.

Yes slow down watch turns keep belt on avoid temperature drops with light rain and wind

Sounds like cascades and southern oregon...never been to op but lived in vicoria bc
 
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