Glossary of Inclement Weather Terms Home | Departments

Black ice. Popular term for a very thin coating of clear, bubble-free, homogeneous ice which forms on a pavement with a temperature at or slightly above 0oC (32oF) when the temperature of the air in contact with the ground is below the freezing-point of water and small slightly super-cooled water droplets deposit on the surface and coalesce (flow together) before freezing.

Dry chemical spread rate. The chemical application rate. For solid applications it is simply the weight of the chemical applied per lane kilometer (or mile). For liquid applications it is the weight of the dry chemical in solution applied per lane kilometer (or mile).

Freezing rain. Super-cooled droplets of liquid precipitation falling on a surface whose temperature is below or slightly above freezing, resulting in a hard, slick, generally thick coating of ice commonly called glaze or clear ice. Non-super-cooled raindrops falling on a surface whose temperature is well below freezing will also result in glaze.

Frost. Also called hoarfrost. Ice crystals in the form of scales, needles, feathers or fans deposited on surfaces cooled by radiation or by other processes. The deposit may be composed of drops of dew frozen after deposition and of ice formed directly from water vapor at a temperature below 0oC (32oF) (sublimation).

Light snow. Snow falling at the rate of less than 12 mm (1/2 in) per hour; visibility is not affected adversely.

Liquid chemical. A chemical solution; the weight of the dry chemical in solution applied per lane kilometer (or mile) is the chemical application rate – the "dry chemical spread rate" – used in this appendix.

Moderate or heavy snow. Snow falling at a rate of 12 mm (1/2 in) per hour or greater; visibility may be reduced.

Sleet. A mixture of rain and of snow which has been partially melted by falling through an atmosphere with a temperature slightly above freezing.

Slush. Accumulation of snow which lies on an impervious base and is saturated with water in excess of its freely drained capacity. It will not support any weight when stepped or driven on but will "squish" until the base support is reached.

© City of Topeka