Slip, sliding away…Why is ice slippery?

Yesterday was one miserable day with ice adhering to everything making walking and traveling treacherous. So why is ice slippery? A century and a half of scientific inquiry has yet to solve this one. It’s clear that a thin layer of liquid water on top of solid ice causes the slipperiness. But there’s consensus as to why ice, unlike most other solids has such a layer.

Some studies suggest that friction from a moving shoe, skate or tire causes the heat necessary to melt the ice beneath it. But what if the shoe isn’t moving at all? A second theory proposes that ice inherently has a fluid layer caused by the motion of surface molecules that have nothing above to bind to and so move around in search of stability. The slippery culprit may be a combination of these two theories.

Enough for our science class. With all the technological breakthroughs in fighting cancer, landing on the the moon and Mars, communication technology, understanding the molecular composition to fight diseases and wars, we cannot figure out why ice is slippery? Maybe it’s best. Keep nature simple.

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Mid winter has passed

Meteorologically speaking winter has passed through it’s midpoint on January 15th. December 1st – March 1st are the true winter months in the eyes of meteorologists. Here we are entering the second phase of this season and so far so good with little snow to report and the occasional invasion of arctic cold. December was quite mild averaging 4 degrees above normal, while January so far has been 4 degrees below normal. Snowfall hasn’t made an impact with less than 10 inches in total dating back to November. We should be near 20 inches to date. So, what’s the second half of this winter going to offer us? Right now it looks like there will be continuous shots of arctic cold with just a chance of some snow showers and light snow for the next couple of weeks. February could change as the overall weather pattern will reconfigure allowing the snow factory to open up and finally get going to give us our first significant winter storm. Stay tuned.

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A blue Monday

As we come off a cold and dry weekend, you may have noticed that the sun was obscured by clouds all day making today’s actual high of 29 feel colder. The clouds will tend to thicken overnight with a wintry mix of snow and sleet breaking out over the area for the Monday morning commute (deja vu this past Friday am commute) which will quickly change to freezing rain. The ground and surfaces are very cold so some icing conditions will be an issue. The freezing rain may have trouble turning to all rain in many Connecticut valleys as the cold, dense air will be difficult to displace by warmer air above trying to move in from the southwest. Rain and ice will change back to snow briefly Monday evening as cold spills back in. The rest of the week will be dry and colder than normal.

 

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Rattle, shake and hum

┬áThe quiet corner of Connecticut was greeted by a unfrequented visitor this morning at 9:30. An earthquake was not in the forecast this today. The Weston Observatory at Boston College, part of the New England Seismic Network confirmed that an earthquake occurred in Plainfield with a magnitude of 2.3. Connecticut’s first earthquake for 2015, there were six recorded in 2014. The largest ever to hit Connecticut was in 1971 at East Haddam observed by early settlers that caused widespread damage and even a fissure.

 

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Did you get that new snowblower?

There were many reports of a snow blitz for the northeast this season. Even the Old Farmers Almanac predicted snowfall to be much above normal, especially for southern New England. It hasn’t happened yet and doesn’t look too promising at all for the next few weeks. ┬áThe only shovelable snow occurred on Thanksgiving and this past Saturday which became a crusty, soggy pile of slush by Sunday. Keep the fuel stabilizer in the tank because there’s no significant accumulating snow in the foreseeable future. I understand many are itching to cut that first pathway down the driveway and walkway with their new snowblower. For now, just cold and dry conditions with some snow showers to cover the ground sparsely for the next week or so, then a January warmup!

 

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