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Weather Works: Why bridges ice over before the roads

Meteorologist Taylor Stephenson explains the science behind why bridges ice before the roads.

MACON, Ga. — During winter weather events, any type of travel is strongly discouraged because the road conditions may be dangerous. Bridges are especially dangerous to travel on because they freeze over much faster than roads do.

There's a couple of reasons for this. First of all, bridges are suspended in the air, which allows cold air to wrap around both the top and bottom of the structure.

This allows for the bridge to cool down to the air temperature. So if the air is 32 degrees, the bridge will fall to that temperature before the road. Any precipitation that falls would freeze on contact or accumulate.

Secondly, bridges are usually constructed of concrete or steel compared to the road which is usually made of asphalt. Concrete and steel cool more easily than asphalt does.

It's best to avoid bridges in icy weather or driving altogether if you can. This is all to say that the best place to be during winter weather is inside!

If you have to travel in icy conditions, make sure to keep a blanket, food and water, and a flashlight in your car.

That's how your weather works!


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