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For preventing icy patios, is shoveling BEFORE snow transitions to rain better, or AFTER?


ScienceNostalgia101
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So it's that time of year again; wintertime cyclones bring snow, then snow-melting rain, then the mixture of rainwater and meltwater can freeze in the colder temperatures that follow both. Typically I've only seen the latter on streets, not patios, though I'm not sure why if at all there isn't a risk of the same happening on patios, if for any reason marginally less so. I'm wondering what the most practical way to deal with that is.

 

Is it better to shovel the snow off the patio before it transitions to rain, or does that just expose the rainwater to the subsequent cold temperatures? Conversely, if one were to deliberately leave the snow on the patio, to insulate the meltwater underneath the snow, would it freeze anyway, and then leave a layer of flat ice if I managed to get rid of the snow above it, or would the snow be so effective in absorbing the water for the water to freeze onto the snow, instead of onto the patio? Presently I opt for "clean the snow before the rain starts" approach, but didn't particularly often check how well it actually works. (A false fire alarm this morning gave me a good fright that I might end up needing to escape through the patio one of these days. Although I left my old boots next to it so it probably wouldn't be much of a problem to escape through the snow...)

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30 minutes ago, ScienceNostalgia101 said:

So it's that time of year again; wintertime cyclones bring snow, then snow-melting rain, then the mixture of rainwater and meltwater can freeze in the colder temperatures that follow both. Typically I've only seen the latter on streets, not patios, though I'm not sure why if at all there isn't a risk of the same happening on patios, if for any reason marginally less so. I'm wondering what the most practical way to deal with that is.

 

Is it better to shovel the snow off the patio before it transitions to rain, or does that just expose the rainwater to the subsequent cold temperatures? Conversely, if one were to deliberately leave the snow on the patio, to insulate the meltwater underneath the snow, would it freeze anyway, and then leave a layer of flat ice if I managed to get rid of the snow above it, or would the snow be so effective in absorbing the water for the water to freeze onto the snow, instead of onto the patio? Presently I opt for "clean the snow before the rain starts" approach, but didn't particularly often check how well it actually works. (A false fire alarm this morning gave me a good fright that I might end up needing to escape through the patio one of these days. Although I left my old boots next to it so it probably wouldn't be much of a problem to escape through the snow...)

I was always taught the best thing is to clear it off the ground before anything melts - which seems to be what you have been doing.

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Seem to be several questions today that Dakotans are well-positioned to answer.   Almost any snow can partially melt then refreeze as slick ice later in the day.  Clear snow ASAP.  Unless you are fond of lawsuits from older pedestrians.  

Prompt clearance of walks, all the way to each edge, also means less need for salting them, a practice which is not good for your soil or for urban runoff which makes its way from storm drains to streams.  Towns here have moved to non-salt alternatives for roads.  

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