AFTER DINNER ADD ON
THE ZAMBONI EFFECT
Most of us have been to an ice rink to either skate or watch an event (I will never forget Dorothy Hamill skating at the Huntington Civic Center in 1997!). When the ice gets choppy and worn, the Zamboni Man goes to work. The odd shaped mini van that the ice man drives is called a Zamboni after the man who patented the vehicle. The Zamboni collects old ice chips like a broom, melts them with hot water then repours the heated water onto the cold ice rink. The result, a fresh coat of ice to skate upon.
This Tuesday morning, when wet snow arrived at 7 AM it fell onto an ice cold road surface (chilled by the weekend arctic wave). The snow quickly stuck to roads, was compacted into a slushy slime then froze as the cold ground acted to chill the slush from below. In effect, a Zamboni effect iced over roads and made for a horrendous morning rush hour.
Post Mortem Morning Snow
It is a sad weather blog this Tuesday evening as the morning snowfall, which arrived 1-2 hours earlier than predicted, was responsible not only for massive traffic jams but also the death of 2 people in Johnson County Kentucky. In effect, the snow fell at the worst possible time as thousands were heading to work and school.
An hour or two earlier and road crews would have been able to get a jump on salting roads. An hour or two later and most people would have been to work and school. Since less than an inch fell, this was clearly a case of a QUALITY not QUANTITY snowfall.
As I looked at the morning observations, what struck me as unusual was the swiftness with which the snow streaked across the region. Snow began falling at the Lexington airport at 4:32 and in Cincinnati at 5:12. In a typical pattern it would take 2-3 hours for the snow to make it into the Scioto Valley another 1-2 hours to reach Huntington then Charleston. Instead, snow reached Tri State airport at 6:55 and made the final 40 mile trek to Charleston by 7:36.
At both 6 and 11, I had timed the snow to reach our area by 8 AM Portsmouth-Vanceburg and after 9 AM in Huntington-Charleston. That two hour mistiming meant WSAZ viewers were caught off guard by the snowfall. My error for sure. But I quote from my 11pm show and from WSAZ.COM in yesterday’s blog…
11 pm…”If snow gets in quicker than I expect, roads may become slippery.”
WSAZ.COM “roads may be briefly slick and slushy so update with Marina in the morning”.
From a Tug Valley high student the following e-mail showed the severity of the situation.
hello! yesterday i was watching the weather and you said "superintendent's, don't send students home tomorrow". well, i hope you know we were on a state of emergency lock down at school because of the slick roads. the students that leave half a day wasn't allowed to go home. they didn't send the vocational students to vocational school either. i thought it wasn't gonna be bad? well, we had to stay at school all day worrying about our friends and family. i got a phone call at school by my mom telling me that my first cousin was in a car accident. a coal truck hit her head on and my friend called the school and told us she went in the ditch and was stranded for four hours at a gas station because of the state of emergency. we could've been warned by this, but you had poor judgement about this. i'd rather of been home safe than at school when the roads were really bad. there were three car accidents just in front of my house and several today because the icy roads.
a concerned student from tug valley high school
I wrote back to Mike to state I had referred to the fact that snow would melt in the late morning-afternoon light rain and thaw. Under those circumstances, sending kids home in the snow would have been dangerous.
What I did not foresee was the snow coming for the drive to school itself. Again my error!
But the morale of the story is, always use our latest forecast as your day planner since Marina was on top of the developing snowfall this morning as what appeared to be a wet nuisance snow turned into a slick, hazardous snow after 7 AM.