Ice! Ice!

Winter weather – sleet, freezing rain, snow; all the dreaded words that come when winter’s looming presence surrounds us.  In Lancaster, PA we have been fortunate enough to not be hit with any treacherous weather, yet – but the time is coming and it’s best to be prepared & in the know of what you are dealing with.  In this blog, we will discuss freezing rain vs sleet and the importance of pretreating. 

Freezing Rain vs. Sleet –

While both of these wintery conditions produce massive headaches for most people there are some major differences and similarities amongst the two.

Freezing rain and sleet are both the result of raindrops from a layer of warm air, above the surface, fall into a layer of freezing air near the ground.  The outcome, freezing rain or sleet, is determined by the thickness of the layer of freezing air.

Freezing rain takes place when it is too warm for snow.  An extremely thin layer of freezing air results in freezing rain because there is not ample time for the raindrops to freeze.  “Black ice” is a result of freezing rain contacting the ground/hard surfaces when the temperature is at or below freezing.  Freezing rain or black ice is most common on roadways but it can also form on trees, cars, power lines, etc.

Sleet is what happens when the freezing air’s layer is thicker.  This causes for the raindrops to freeze before reaching the ground.  Sleet is much different in the fact that it can accumulate, like snow, and bounces off of the ground/hard surfaces rather than coating them. 

While sleet is a nuisance, it is widely believed that freezing rain is a bigger danger when it comes to the weather.  Because of the weight of freezing rain that lies on tree branches, wires, etc it becomes more of an issue with ensuring the safety of people around the area because, at any time, that weight could give and then gravity is left to work its magic.  A ½-inch of freezing rain on a power line can add an additional weight of 500 lbs!  You have to also keep in mind its nickname “black ice” more often than not, drivers and pedestrians don’t even know that it’s there until they have lost control of their vehicle or have slipped and fallen. Be cautious of the appearance of wetness on surfaces when freezing rain is forecasted.


The most important thing you can do to keep yourself and family safe at home is pretreating your hard surfaces.  Prior to the freezing rain or sleet arriving, take a few minutes and go outside and apply a liquid anti-icer, such as salt brine [granular salt & tap water], to sidewalks, driveway, etc.  Salt brine will prevent ice from bonding to the surfaces as well as lowering the temperature at which water freezes!  You may need to reapply throughout the storm.  And it’s important to go back after the storm and apply a deicer to prevent freezing.   

Associations and Memberships

Building Industry Association of Lancaster County Ephrata Area Chamber of Commerce Techo-pro Contractor Certified ICPI Installer