Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Icy Road Physics

My Yard at 5:10 PM on January 6, 2015
I am amazed at the lack of respect many drivers have for the weather and the resulting conditions on the roads. 

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to drive slowly to work in a huge traffic nightmare caused by snow and slippery conditions. The drivers who respected the lack of traction on the road caused by the snow did fine. Many, however, with 4-wheel drive SUVs did not fare so well. They, it seems, do not understand the physics of ice and roads. 

The physics of icy roads is simple: drive too fast and the ditch will catch you.

That is likely a better outcome than careening across a four lane highway to to end up in tangling with the oncoming traffic.
Weather Forecast Starting 7 January

Four-wheel drive vehicles stop and handle much the same as non-four-wheel drive vehicles--maybe a bit worse at times because they tend to be heavier. At slower speeds the all wheel drive vehicles have an advantage, but at higher speeds they are just heavier projectiles careening down the highway.

The scene in my yard when I arrived home was equally disturbing--snow and cold. I have been enjoying my still green lawn, but that now seems to have disappeared under the blanket of white. 

As I write this, the forecast is for the 20 degree reading on my thermometer to be the high for the day heading down near single digits overnight. The highest expected temperature during the next 10 days is expected to be 37 degrees--next Wednesday.

I don't think I'm going to be golfing anytime soon.

Drive safe out there.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD
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