Pavement Advice for the Freezing Cold

How to handle unusually cold weather when you are on the pavement, and what to do about your asphalt when the weather subsides.

Texas has had some wild weather these last few weeks. The Lone Star State is known for its sprawling deserts and plains, as well as extreme heat waves blowing in out of Mexico and the Pacific. This winter though, things have been a bit different. Much of the state is seeing, or has seen record cold, as in record-breaking cold. Some places were colder than they have been in 30 years, while others broke records from more than a century ago. Check out this BayNews9 article for a full list of broken temperature records. Needless to say, it has caught a lot of people off-guard. Windchill dipped places like Houston and San Antonio into 11F and 9F respectively. Other places dropped into negative double digits thanks to the wind chill.

The energy grid in Texas has seen a large failure, with a dip of 46,000 megawatts (that’s 46 gigawatts) of production. This left people and businesses unable to act in the freezing weather. Everything from deliveries being delayed to frozen pipes bursting to rolling blackouts hit during this time.

We can’t help with everything happening in Texas, but we can help you keep safe on the roads, and help you figure out what to do after.

Staying safe on frozen asphalt

Asphalt paving is famously slick in the winter time in cold climates. Ice clings to it and snow gets impacted into it, leaving it slippery and dangerous for pedestrians and commuters. Fortunately, it’s not all bad, as people living in the midwest deal with it yearly, more or less without serious problems. A few pieces of simple advice will go a long way.

Go slower

This probably is a no-brainer for you but it’s still worth a mention.

  • Go even slower when on a slope. Your breaks will not work as well driving downhill on an icy hill.
  • Increase your follow distance to 3 times what is normally is. We’ve all seen videos of big pile ups on the roadways in blizzards. Increasing your follow distance is how that sort of thing can be prevented.
  • Go especially slow when there are pedestrians around. Not only do you need to be more careful, but they can slip on the ice too.

It’s not all bad though, thanks to the weight of a car, you are less likely to slip in one going at low speeds than you are on foot.

What to do if you start skidding

  • Don’t keep your foot on the brake, try pumping it, or easing off.
  • Get your steering wheel going in the direction of the skid, so you are ready to move when you regain control.
  • Going slowly in the first place helps prevent skidding.
  • When you do brake, brake gently, this helps decrease your momentum in a way that won’t lead to sliding.

Keep your lights, windshield, roof, and windows clean

  • Other people need to see your lights.
  • Hopefully, we don’t have to explain why you need to keep your front and back windshields clear.
    • Make sure that you clear them both off fully! A small 10×10 inch window in the front is not enough.
  • Keep your windows clear for the same reason as your windshield.
  • Clear off your rooof so that if you stop suddenly or if heavy wind occurs you won’t have roof snow falling and blocking your windshield.

Keep a shovel, matts, and/or 2 by 4s in your car

  • This is for digging out of deep/slippery snow. Matts or 2 by 4s under the tires will help you get some traction.
  • The shovel will be useful for digging out yourself and others. It doesn’t have to be a big one, a hand shovel will work just fine.

Stay at least 200 feet behind snow plows

  • Give snow plows and sanding/salting trucks their distance. Not only might they stop suddenly, but the amound of snow they kick up could be a hazard to you.
  • Do not pass them unless they are pulled over and stopped.

Be extra careful on bridges, overpasses, and ramps

  • These areas often freeze first, and will have ice before other parts of the road will.
  • These areas are often curvy and on inclines, making slipping more disastrous. Exercise caution.

Watch out for black ice

Many people have heard of this phenomenom, not many know what it is though. It is the product of snow/ice initially freezing in place, then unfreezing over the cycle of a day, and refreezing at night. This happens again and again throughout the winter. On the road, it becomes a mix of oil from cars and pavement and refrozen ice.

  • It’s harder to see and often much more slippery than normal snow and ice.
  • It can be lurking under new snow, making the surface even more dangerous.

Keep some emergency precautions in your car

In case you get stranded, keep a blanket, heater, some food, and water in your car so you don’t freeze while waiting for help.

What to look for when the weather subsides

When the freezing weather turns to spring, your pavement will be in dire straights. You will be dealing with wear and tear the likes of which you haven’t seen in Texas in a long time.

Expect the following:

  • Existing problems/faults will be worse. Cracks and potholes will be bigger and deeper thanks to water getting inside and expanding when it froze.
  • Asphalt paving will become uneven as that subsurface water expands in the cold.
  • Parking lot marking wearing off. You can expect the salt, sand, and winter weather to have an effect on paint too. Parking lines, handicapped signs, and pretty much everything painted on asphalt will be harder to see.

If you need your asphalt repaired, come to us! Reliable Paving is an experienced team of paving contractors ready to help you and your business recover from this winter. Contact us today to let us know how we can help you get your pavement ready for spring weather.