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Slush on a window in three different light settings Slush on window in three lights.jpg
Slush on a window in three different light settings

Slush, also called slush ice, is a slurry mixture of small ice crystals (e.g., snow) and liquid water. [1] [2]

Slurry thin sloppy mud or cement or, in extended use, any fluid mixture of a pulverized solid with a liquid (usually water), often used as a convenient way of handling solids in bulk

A slurry is a mixture of solids with specific gravity greater than 1 suspended in liquid, usually water. Most common use of slurry is as a mean of transportation of solids being the liquid a carrier that is pumped on a device like a centrifugal pump. The size of solid particles may vary from 1 micron up to hundred of milliliters. The solids may settle at certain transport velocity and the mixture can behave as Newtonian or non-Newtonian fluid. Depending on the mixture the slurry may be abrasive and corrosive.

Liquid liquid object

A liquid is a nearly incompressible fluid that conforms to the shape of its container but retains a (nearly) constant volume independent of pressure. As such, it is one of the four fundamental states of matter, and is the only state with a definite volume but no fixed shape. A liquid is made up of tiny vibrating particles of matter, such as atoms, held together by intermolecular bonds. Water is, by far, the most common liquid on Earth. Like a gas, a liquid is able to flow and take the shape of a container. Most liquids resist compression, although others can be compressed. Unlike a gas, a liquid does not disperse to fill every space of a container, and maintains a fairly constant density. A distinctive property of the liquid state is surface tension, leading to wetting phenomena.

Water chemical compound

Water is a transparent, tasteless, odorless, and nearly colorless chemical substance, which is the main constituent of Earth's streams, lakes, and oceans, and the fluids of most living organisms. It is vital for all known forms of life, even though it provides no calories or organic nutrients. Its chemical formula is H2O, meaning that each of its molecules contains one oxygen and two hydrogen atoms, connected by covalent bonds. Water is the name of the liquid state of H2O at standard ambient temperature and pressure. It forms precipitation in the form of rain and aerosols in the form of fog. Clouds are formed from suspended droplets of water and ice, its solid state. When finely divided, crystalline ice may precipitate in the form of snow. The gaseous state of water is steam or water vapor. Water moves continually through the water cycle of evaporation, transpiration (evapotranspiration), condensation, precipitation, and runoff, usually reaching the sea.

In the natural environment, slush forms when ice or snow melts. This often mixes with dirt and other materials, resulting in a gray or muddy brown color. Often, solid ice or snow can block the drainage of fluid water from slushy areas, so slush often goes through multiple freeze/thaw cycles before completely disappearing.

Ice water frozen into the solid state

Ice is water frozen into a solid state. Depending on the presence of impurities such as particles of soil or bubbles of air, it can appear transparent or a more or less opaque bluish-white color.

In areas where road salt is used to clear roadways, slush forms at lower temperatures than it would ordinarily in salted areas. This can produce a number of different consistencies over the same geographical area.

Road A demarcated land route with a suitable surface between places

A road is a thoroughfare, route, or way on land between two places that has been paved or otherwise improved to allow travel by foot or some form of conveyance, including a motor vehicle, cart, bicycle, or horse.

Slushfall or slushing is the action of a wet snow falling from the sky.


Melted snow in a roadway that has turned to slush in the wheel paths Slush^ - - 1148909.jpg
Melted snow in a roadway that has turned to slush in the wheel paths

Because slush behaves like a non-Newtonian fluid, [3] which means it behaves like a solid mass until its inner shear forces rise beyond a specific threshold and beyond can very suddenly become fluid, it is very difficult to predict its behavior. This is the underlying mechanism of avalanches and their unpredictability and thus hidden potential to become a natural hazard.

A non-Newtonian fluid is a fluid that does not follow Newton's law of viscosity, i.e. constant viscosity independent of stress. In non-Newtonian fluids, viscosity can change when under force to either more liquid or more solid. Ketchup, for example, becomes runnier when shaken and is thus a non-Newtonian fluid. Many salt solutions and molten polymers are non-Newtonian fluids, as are many commonly found substances such as custard, honey, toothpaste, starch suspensions, maizena, paint, blood, and shampoo.

Shear force

Shearing forces are unaligned forces pushing one part of a body in one specific direction, and another part of the body in the opposite direction. When the forces are aligned into each other, they are called compression forces. An example is a deck of cards being pushed one way on the top, and the other at the bottom, causing the cards to slide. Another example is when wind blows at the side of a peaked roof of a home - the side walls experience a force at their top pushing in the direction of the wind, and their bottom in the opposite direction, from the ground or foundation. William A. Nash defines shear force in terms of planes: "If a plane is passed through a body, a force acting along this plane is called a shear force or shearing force."

Viscosity physical property of a fluid

The viscosity of a fluid is a measure of its resistance to gradual deformation by shear stress or tensile stress. For liquids, it corresponds to the informal concept of "thickness": for example, syrup has a higher viscosity than water.

Slush can also be a problem on an aircraft runway since the effect of excess slush acting on the aircraft's wheels can have a resisting effect during take off, which can cause an accident such as the Munich air disaster. Slush on roads can also increase the braking distances for cars and trucks, increasing the possibility of rear end crashes and other accidents. [4]

Aircraft machine that is able to fly by gaining support from the air other than the reactions of the air against the earth’s surface

An aircraft is a machine that is able to fly by gaining support from the air. It counters the force of gravity by using either static lift or by using the dynamic lift of an airfoil, or in a few cases the downward thrust from jet engines. Common examples of aircraft include airplanes, helicopters, airships, gliders, and hot air balloons.

Runway Area of surface used by aircraft to takeoff from and land on

According to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a runway is a "defined rectangular area on a land aerodrome prepared for the landing and takeoff of aircraft". Runways may be a man-made surface or a natural surface.

Munich air disaster aviation accident

The Munich air disaster occurred on 6 February 1958 when British European Airways Flight 609 crashed on its third attempt to take off from a slush-covered runway at Munich-Riem Airport, West Germany. On the plane was the Manchester United football team, nicknamed the "Busby Babes", along with supporters and journalists. Twenty of the 44 on the aircraft died at the scene. The injured, some unconscious, were taken to the Rechts der Isar Hospital in Munich where three more died, resulting in 23 fatalities with 21 survivors.

Slush refreezing in overnight frost can turn to dangerous slippery ice underfoot.

Frost coating or deposit of ice that may form in humid air in cold conditions, usually overnight

Frost is a thin layer of ice on a solid surface, which forms from water vapor in an above freezing atmosphere coming in contact with a solid surface whose temperature is below freezing, and resulting in a phase change from water vapor to ice as the water vapor reaches the freezing point. In temperate climates, it most commonly appears on surfaces near the ground as fragile white crystals; in cold climates, it occurs in a greater variety of forms. The propagation of crystal formation occurs by the process of nucleation.

In some cases though, slush can be beneficial. When snow hits the slush, it melts on contact. This prevents roads from becoming too congested with snow or sleet. [5]

Related Research Articles

Glacier Persistent body of ice that is moving under its own weight

A glacier is a persistent body of dense ice that is constantly moving under its own weight; it forms where the accumulation of snow exceeds its ablation over many years, often centuries. Glaciers slowly deform and flow due to stresses induced by their weight, creating crevasses, seracs, and other distinguishing features. They also abrade rock and debris from their substrate to create landforms such as cirques and moraines. Glaciers form only on land and are distinct from the much thinner sea ice and lake ice that form on the surface of bodies of water.

Snow precipitation in the form of flakes of crystalline water ice

Snow refers to forms of ice crystals that precipitate from the atmosphere and undergo changes on the Earth's surface. It pertains to frozen crystalline water throughout its life cycle, starting when, under suitable conditions, the ice crystals form in the atmosphere, increase to millimeter size, precipitate and accumulate on surfaces, then metamorphose in place, and ultimately melt, slide or sublimate away. Snowstorms organize and develop by feeding on sources of atmospheric moisture and cold air. Snowflakes nucleate around particles in the atmosphere by attracting supercooled water droplets, which freeze in hexagonal-shaped crystals. Snowflakes take on a variety of shapes, basic among these are platelets, needles, columns and rime. As snow accumulates into a snowpack, it may blow into drifts. Over time, accumulated snow metamorphoses, by sintering, sublimation and freeze-thaw. Where the climate is cold enough for year-to-year accumulation, a glacier may form. Otherwise, snow typically melts seasonally, causing runoff into streams and rivers and recharging groundwater.

Avalanche sudden, drastic flow of snow down a slope

An avalanche is a cohesive slab of snow lying upon a weaker layer of snow when the snowpack that fractures and slides down a steep slope when triggered. Avalanches are typically triggered in a starting zone from a mechanical failure in the snowpack when the forces of the snow exceed its strength but sometimes only with gradual widening. After initiation, avalanches usually accelerate rapidly and grow in mass and volume as they entrain more snow. If the avalanche moves fast enough, some of the snow may mix with the air forming a powder snow avalanche, which is a type of gravity current.

Sodium chloride chemical compound

Sodium chloride, commonly known as salt, is an ionic compound with the chemical formula NaCl, representing a 1:1 ratio of sodium and chloride ions. With molar masses of 22.99 and 35.45 g/mol respectively, 100 g of NaCl contains 39.34 g Na and 60.66 g Cl. Sodium chloride is the salt most responsible for the salinity of seawater and of the extracellular fluid of many multicellular organisms. In its edible form of table salt, it is commonly used as a condiment and food preservative. Large quantities of sodium chloride are used in many industrial processes, and it is a major source of sodium and chlorine compounds used as feedstocks for further chemical syntheses. A second major application of sodium chloride is de-icing of roadways in sub-freezing weather.

Storm any disturbed state of an astronomical bodys atmosphere

A storm is any disturbed state of an environment or in an astronomical body's atmosphere especially affecting its surface, and strongly implying severe weather. It may be marked by significant disruptions to normal conditions such as strong wind, tornadoes, hail, thunder and lightning, heavy precipitation, heavy freezing rain, strong winds, or wind transporting some substance through the atmosphere as in a dust storm, blizzard, sandstorm, etc.

A winter storm is an event in which varieties of precipitation are formed that only occur at low temperatures, such as snow or sleet, or a rainstorm where ground temperatures are low enough to allow ice to form. In temperate continental climates, these storms are not necessarily restricted to the winter season, but may occur in the late autumn and early spring as well. Very rarely, they may form in summer, though it would have to be an abnormally cold summer, such as the summer of 1816 in the Northeastern United States.

Supercooling, also known as undercooling, is the process of lowering the temperature of a liquid or a gas below its freezing point without it becoming a solid.

Halite mineral form of sodium chloride

Halite, commonly known as rock salt, is a type of salt, the mineral (natural) form of sodium chloride (NaCl). Halite forms isometric crystals. The mineral is typically colorless or white, but may also be light blue, dark blue, purple, pink, red, orange, yellow or gray depending on the amount and type of impurities. It commonly occurs with other evaporite deposit minerals such as several of the sulfates, halides, and borates. The name halite is derived from the Ancient Greek word for salt, ἅλς (háls).

Black ice thin coating of glazed ice on a surface

Black ice, sometimes called clear ice, is a thin coating of glaze ice on a surface, especially on roads. The ice itself is not black, but visually transparent, allowing the often black road below to be seen through it. The typically low levels of noticeable ice pellets, snow, or sleet surrounding black ice means that areas of the ice are often practically invisible to drivers or people stepping on it. There is, thus, a risk of slippage and subsequent accident due to the unexpected loss of traction.

Rumble strip road safety feature

Rumble strips, also known as sleeper lines, alert strips, audible lines, sleepy bumps, wake up calls, growlers, drift lines, and drunk bumps, are a road safety feature to alert inattentive drivers of potential danger, by causing a tactile vibration and audible rumbling transmitted through the wheels into the vehicle interior. A rumble strip is applied along the direction of travel following an edgeline or centerline, to alert drivers when they drift from their lane. Rumble strips may also be installed in a series across the direction of travel, to warn drivers of a stop or slowdown ahead, or of an approaching danger spot.

Snow removal

Snow removal or snow clearing is the job of removing snow after a snowfall to make travel easier and safer. This is done by both individual households and by governments and institutions.

Deicing process of removing snow, ice or frost from a surface

De-icing is the process of removing snow, ice or frost from a surface. Anti-icing is understood to be the application of chemicals that not only de-ice but also remain on a surface and continue to delay the reformation of ice for a certain period of time, or prevent adhesion of ice to make mechanical removal easier.

In aviation, icing conditions are those atmospheric conditions that can lead to the formation of water ice on the surfaces of an aircraft, or within the engine as carburetor icing. Inlet icing is another engine-related danger, often occurring in jet aircraft. These icing phenomena do not necessarily occur together. Many aircraft, especially general aviation aircraft, are not certified for flight into known icing—icing conditions certain or likely to exist, based on pilot reports, observations, and forecasts.

Melt pond Pools of open water that form on sea ice in the warmer months of spring and summer

Melt ponds are pools of open water that form on sea ice in the warmer months of spring and summer. The ponds are also found on glacial ice and ice shelves. Ponds of melted water can also develop under the ice.

Debris flow

Debris flows are geological phenomena in which water-laden masses of soil and fragmented rock rush down mountainsides, funnel into stream channels, entrain objects in their paths, and form thick, muddy deposits on valley floors. They generally have bulk densities comparable to those of rock avalanches and other types of landslides, but owing to widespread sediment liquefaction caused by high pore-fluid pressures, they can flow almost as fluidly as water. Debris flows descending steep channels commonly attain speeds that surpass 10 m/s, although some large flows can reach speeds that are much greater. Debris flows with volumes ranging up to about 100,000 cubic meters occur frequently in mountainous regions worldwide. The largest prehistoric flows have had volumes exceeding 1 billion cubic meters. As a result of their high sediment concentrations and mobility, debris flows can be very destructive.

Winter service vehicle

A winter service vehicle (WSV), or snow removal vehicle, is a vehicle specially designed or adapted to clear thoroughfares of ice and snow. Winter service vehicles are usually based on a dump truck chassis, with adaptations allowing them to carry specially designed snow removal equipment. Many authorities also use smaller vehicles on sidewalks, footpaths, and cycleways. Road maintenance agencies and contractors in temperate or polar areas often own several winter service vehicles, using them to keep the roads clear of snow and ice and safe for driving during winter. Airports use winter service vehicles to keep both aircraft surfaces, and runways and taxiways free of snow and ice, which, besides endangering aircraft takeoff and landing, can interfere with the aerodynamics of the craft.

Rain and snow mixed

Rain and snow mixed is precipitation composed of rain and partially melted snow. Unlike ice pellets, which are hard, and freezing rain, which is fluid until striking an object, this precipitation is soft and translucent, but it contains some traces of ice crystals, from partially fused snowflakes. In any one location, it usually occurs briefly as a transition phase from rain to snow or vice versa. Its METAR code is RASN.

Palair Macedonian Airlines Flight 301

Palair Macedonian Airlines Flight 301 was a scheduled international passenger flight from Switzerland's Zurich-Kloten Airport to International Airport Skopje, Skopje, which crashed shortly after take off on March 5, 1993. The Fokker 100 was operated by Palair Macedonian Airlines, the national airline of Macedonia.

Glossary of meteorology Wikimedia list article

This glossary of meteorology is a list of terms and concepts relevant to meteorology and the atmospheric sciences, their sub-disciplines, and related fields.


  1. World Meteorological Organization Definitions of Sea Ice Archived 2009-01-08 at the Wayback Machine
  2. "Definition of SLUSH". Retrieved 2018-05-19.
  3. Kobayashi, S.; Izumi, K.; Kimiishi, I. (2007). "Slushflow disasters in Japan and its characteristics" (PDF). Annals of glaciology. International Glaciological Society. 47.
  4. "Snow & Ice - FHWA Road Weather Management". Retrieved 2018-05-19.
  5. Wilson, Logan (2018-02-07). "PennDOT: Slush kept roads from becoming icy". WHTM. Retrieved 2018-05-19.