Storm Highway by Dan Robinson
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Freezing rain creates icy roads in Pennsylvania: February 22, 2008

ABOVE: A car spins out on icy Central Avenue in Washington, PA.

EXPEDITION VIDEO: Cars slide on icy hill: Watch Video

WASHINGTON, PA - I traveled to my parents' house in Washington, PA this week to be there for my Dad's knee surgery and recovery, which inadvertently put me in the center of the action as freezing rain coated the area with a glaze of ice. I made an interesting discovery that brick and stone paved streets freeze at about the same time that bridges and overpasses do. Apparently the gaps between the bricks allow the cold air to filter down and cool the road surface faster than asphalt or concrete, very similar to how bridges ice over first. The result was that the brick streets around town were completely glazed over very early in the evening, with all other roads clear - which was catching drivers and pedestrians alike off guard.

There are a lot of brick streets in Washington, many of which are on steep hills. I drove a couple of blocks from the house down to Central Avenue, which begins on a steep hill between North Wade Avenue and North Avenue (map). Every car coming down this hill either spun out or uncontrollably slid through the stop sign into cross traffic on North Avenue. After a call to the city, the salt truck eventually arrived and treated the hazard. Similar accidents occured on brick and cobblestone streets in Pittsburgh, which also made headlines this morning.

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