Freezing rain requires specific conditions. Walking the fine line between pre-treating for freezing rain and rain can mean the difference between a parking lot turned skating rink or just a wet one. Some contractors prefer to pre-treat the pavement and risk it being diluted or washed away from rain than take the chance of not being prepared and having unhappy customers. These PlowSite members share their experiences with pre-treating when freezing rain is expected.

Brother1: They are predicting some freezing rain here tomorrow and we’re new to de-icing. I was wondering what the best way might be to attack this. Should we salt before the rain starts or does pre-treatment even matter with freezing rain?

TLS: Good question. I’m going out to a site as we speak to pre-salt, in hopes that it will be all that’s needed. I have to be at another job first thing tomorrow morning, so I hope by going out now, it will keep whatever rain comes down from developing an ice layer.

PINEISLAND1: I have also been experimenting with this the past couple seasons. It is much easier with snow than freezing rain. You need to be careful you don’t put it down too early, during straight rain, and have it simply diluted. You need to watch pavement temperatures and apply just before things begin to freeze.

digger242j: We’re expecting freezing rain here by dawn, changing to rain by afternoon, according to the National Weather Service. Sixty percent chance of rain, they say. Since it is forecasted to begin as freezing rain – it’s below freezing already this evening – I’m thinking we’ll go out and pre-salt as soon as the radar makes it relatively certain that we’ll get rain. I don’t want to be fighting morning rush hour, and I sure don’t want customers calling that they have icy lots. I’m also planning to salt our salt-only-when-plowed accounts. I hope they’ll appreciate the good judgment – if they do we’ll look good. If they don’t, we’ll let them complain about the billing, and tell them it’s just because we want to give top-notch service. We’ll write off the $20 worth of salt and know better next time.

TLS: Hey, PINEISLAND1: It was 8 degrees here last night, didn’t get above 30 today, and right now, at 11:45 p.m., its 14 degrees. Pavement temperature is well below freezing, and any rain we get is going to make an icicle out of the lots. All have been salted extra heavy. We left them looking white with salt. The sidewalks were heavily coated with calcium, too. Cheap insurance for what could be disastrous tomorrow morning! If it hadn’t been so cold the past week and it was in the 40s or something today, it’d be a different story.

Ohiosnow: It just started raining here. It’s about one to two hours from freezing rain and snow on the radar. I just went out to check ground temperature, and it should start to freeze in a couple of hours. Looks like another salting-only storm for this year. I like to get out just as the ice rain starts to hit. If you’re too early with too much rain before the ice rain, it will wash away.

TLS: I hit it PERFECT guys! I had about 30 pounds left over and hit half of my driveway last night before calling it a night. Spread it the same consistency as I did my lots. This morning at 7 a.m., it was raining and instantly freezing to everything – except the small area of my driveway that I pre-treated. I basically ice skated down the rest of the driveway to pick up my trash cans, but that area that was salted was wet with still undissolved salt crystals all over. Of course, it’s all washed away now, since it’s been raining hard all day. It sure beats pouring 80-pounds worth of material into the hopper while the pickup bed is a sheet of ice and it’s pouring rain – as I saw a few contractors doing this morning.

PINEISLAND1: Good call. It’s nice when things work out. I am sure your customers noticed, as well as some future customers.

digger242j: To follow up on my previous post: By 3 a.m. they’d changed the forecast. I think the phrase was: “Significant ice accumulation.” We hit the road around 4 a.m. and had all of our salt customers treated shortly after the precipitation began. We went to reload the trucks with salt, and by the time we were done, one customer called and asked if we could come back again. (What they described as icy was more on the slushy side.) Since they’d called, I took the liberty of calling several other customers we know to be very sensitive. They said they’d like a second treatment as well. By the time we’d finished with those second treatments, the storm was pretty much over. The earlier forecast had been much closer to the truth than the revised one. Had we gotten the “significant” amount they called for in the later forecast, there’s no doubt we’d have had to treat everything more than once. We were pretty close to handling this one just right. Had it been forecasted to begin in the evening rather than the start of the morning rush hour, we probably could have waited until after the storm to treat and still come out OK.

TurfPlus: Forecasters were calling for a quarter-inch of ice starting at 6 a.m. So, at 3 a.m., with ground temperature at 27, we decided to start anti-icing using straight Magic Liquid on all our sites. We finished up just as the precipitation started. No icing at all. A few hours later as the Magic diluted, all we had to do was a very light application of Magic Salt.

plowboss: We pre-salt lots all the time when freezing rain is forecasted. If it happens, we’re heroes; if it doesn’t most customers appreciate it and understand that we just listen to what the NWS predicts and our instincts. Most would rather have us err on the side of caution. I would rather have a customer call and say, “Why did you salt the lot?” rather than, “This place is a skating rink.” The former is much more easily explained and shows we have a genuine concern with the conditions of the parking areas we service. If someone does not understand, we usually won’t service them anymore. We want customers who allow us to make the decisions. After all, we watch the weather constantly, visit the locations in the middle of the night and do snow removal and ice control professionally. I think that qualifies us to make decisions, unless the facility manager would like to come out at 3 a.m. and make the call himself. Deal with people honestly and you will be rewarded.