This morning found the center of the driveway still covered with ice. Where vehicle wheels pass some gravel was exposed. The truck was used to take the outgoing mail down and several trips were made up and down the lane to break up the still frozen surface. Becky was able to drive out and make her meeting at the library.
These afternoon pictures show what bright sunlight can do despite air temperatures that remained just below freezing. The low spot between the truck and the camera caught and held runoff water from melting ice. Shadows are now long as the sun approaches the horizon and the trapped water has already formed a thin ice coating. The near snow pile is in partial shadow. Its blue color is reflected clear sky.
The ice chopper accompanied me on the walk down to get the mail. The remains of the snow packed under the blower in the center of the road had turned to ice. That smooth surface was broken into small pieces thinking that more exposed surfaces would melt faster. This morning the center strip was solid ice. This morning, driving here caused the truck to lose traction and begin to slide backwards down hill. Steering toward the gravel edge allowed me to stop the reverse slide. A quick shift into four wheel drive carried the truck up the hill. Now most of the ice is gone!
Full sun completely cleared this section of ice. Now in shadow the soft wet gravel surface is beginning to refreeze. If this gravel freezes solid before the next snowfall, it will remain in place under the plow blade. If it is soft for the next plow, gravel ridges will line the edge of the driveway.
It might appear that there is no rational explanation for this large plowed area beyond the end of the driveway. Actually there are two reasonable justifications for this huge clear area. A solitary deer was feeding here while I was preparing my breakfast this morning. The deer raise havoc in the gardens and I might prefer them to be gone but they were here before me. Robins will return soon usually ahead of the snow melt. They gather on this open ground in huge numbers making a clear statement that winter is nearly gone. Becky loves to have a place to walk around outside too! A more practical explanation is my small tractor can only move snow onto cleared ground. Extra space might be needed if the snow pack is continuous and deep.
During the late morning on February 15, 2018, the ice in the center of the driveway finally melted. This day saw afternoon temperatures in the mid 40F range while the sky was overcast. Melt water is running from the snow everywhere. The driveway surface is soft as is much of the exposed ground.