miðvikudagur, janúar 04, 2006

grit

Temperatures in south Iceland in the winter are often right around freezing. We also get a lot of precipitation thanks to the Gulf Stream. Add those two together, and you get a near-constant precipitory mix of rain, sleet, snow, freezing rain, and rain again. It can even be sunny and snowing and raining all at the same time.

All that slippery stuff coming out of the sky makes for some slippery roads, and Icelanders compensate in two ways. The first is that the highway department (Vegagerðin) almost continually salts the roads. I'm used to this from my New England roots.

But the second, and the thing I'm not used to, is that Icelanders usually install special nagladekk (nail-studded tires) on their cars in the winter. These have the advantages of 1) making a neat snap-crackle-pop on the pavement when you drive down Laugavegur, 2) helping the car stick a little better, and 3) tearing the asphalt to shreds. Iceland is always repaving its main roads because after just one winter, the nail-tires have carved deep grooves in the road.

In fact, these nail-tires are so good at rippin' up the asphalt that they actually atomize it, making tiny highway-particles that float in the air and stick to cars like glue. Add in the ubiquitous road salt, and you get a gritty air- and car-borne paint-stripping mix that the Mass Pike road crews would die for.

1 Comments:

Blogger Farbror Willy said...

We don't use salt in Akureyri, instead we spread tons of coarse sand on the streets and pavements... Question which is preferable, rusty cars because of the salt or sandstorms each time the snow melts?

4.1.06  

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