Don't let dropping temperatures catch you in a tailspin

Don't let dropping temperatures catch you in a tailspin »Play Video
A North Bend resident scrapes ice and snow off the windshield of his car Tuesday morning.

NORTH BEND, Wash. - The brooms and scrapers popped out for the season in North Bend – with people waking up to almost an inch of snow.

Bill said, “I didn’t even know it was snowing until my wife told me.”

Using a small broom to dust off his car, Bill said he doesn’t need to go anywhere today, but figured it’s best to keep the car clean and not let it freeze over in ice.  Under the snow, he scraped a thin layer of ice and if the snow melts and re-freezes, it will be harder to do later.

While Bill cleaned, more than a dozen kids laughed and played in the snow across the street.

One of the moms who drove her daughter to the bus stop said, “When I woke up there was a little bit of snow and my daughter came running out and she said, 'Mommy do I have to go to school today?'”

Yes, there’s not enough snow to cancel school, so the kids made the best of their time, while waiting for their bus, forming balls of snow and running through it.

Fourth-grader Kelsey said, “I’ve been waiting for the snow all year and I was super excited for the snow.”

She started a snowball fight while other kids tried to find enough to build a snowman.

The snow certainly is beautiful to look at, with the trees flocked, glistening in the morning sun, but driving in it is something many people prefer to avoid.

Thankful the school bus is taking her daughter to school, Stacey said, “We’re supposed to have black ice and stuff and that’s really scary.”

Some 250,000 crashes are caused each year by sleet and snow, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.

That transparent film called black ice forms when the temperature of the pavement is colder than the air above it. It is thin and lacks air bubbles, which is why you can’t see it.

So to detect it and avoid it, make sure you know the outside temperature.  Most new cars have a thermometer, so if yours doesn’t, you might want to buy a small thermometer to keep in the car overnight, if you park outside.

Driving safety expert Bill Stanton also suggests you watch your windshield.

If the road looks wet you should have spray on your window. If there’s no spray, then it’s probably ice.

And if you do hit a patch of ice – don’t hit the brakes. Don’t make any drastic moves with the steering wheel. All braking and steering should done with minimal effort and movement.  Experts suggest you slowly pull off the road into a safe parking place to wait for a sand or salt truck, or sunlight and warmer temperatures to melt it.