Instantly freeze water in this weather experiment

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DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Ice storms are one of the most devastating winter events according to the National Weather Service.

The last ice storm in the Miami Valley was Nov 15th, 2018. Almost four-tenths of an inch of ice coated the trees in Dayton.

The weight of the accumulating ice will bring down large tree limbs and result in widespread power outages. More than 51000 Dayton Power and Light customers were in the dark at the peak of the storm.

The region has seen three ice storms over the last twenty years. To be classified as an ice storm the layer of ice is at least a quarter of an inch thick.

Ice storms are the result of freezing rain. In the cloud water crystallized into a snowflake. As the snowflake falls it encounters a warm layer in the atmosphere. The snowflake will completely melt. The raindrop will then fall through a cold layer of freezing air at the surface. The raindrop will be supercooled causing it to freeze on contact. Storm Team 2 Meteorologist Carly Smith demonstrates how freezing rain works in this weather experiment.

Question: How can water freeze on contact

Hypothesis: If water temperature is freezing but it has not turned to ice, then it will freeze if you slam it on the counter.

Materials: water bottle, a bowl large enough for the water bottle to fit, enough ice to cover the water bottle, rock salt or be prepared to use a lot of table salt, thermometer, and some extra water

Experiment:

  • Take a water bottle out of the fridge.
  • Place the water bottle in a large bowl.
  • Cover the water bottle with ice all around it.
  • Add a lot of salt all over the ice.
  • Add some water, not enough to float the ice, but to fill in some of the air gaps especially along the bottom half of the bowl or container.
  • Place the thermometer in the water.
  • The temperature of the water should be between 22-27 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Leave the bottle in the water for 60-90 minutes. You don’t want to leave the water bottle in too long. If it starts to freeze on its own it’s too late. If it isn’t cold enough you can always put it back in the ice water.
  • Add salt or ice if needed to stay in the temperature range.
  • Take the bottle out carefully and slam it on the table or counter.
  • You may need to do this a couple of times.
  • Watch to see if the water inside freezes.
  • If it doesn’t work try leaving the bottle in the icy water for 10-20 minutes and make sure the temperature of the water is in the correct range.

Observation: The first time I tried the water did not freeze. That is when I added some water to the ice. I placed the water back into the ice for 20-30 minutes. I took the water out and hit it on the table. I didn’t notice anything. I slammed it a couple more times. Then it started to freeze. My water bottle didn’t completely freeze. I probably should have left it in the ice water a little bit longer. I think if you start with the ice, salt, and water mixture it should work after about 60 minutes.

Conclusion: Water molecules are moving around in the liquid state. Once the temperature starts to drop the molecules will slow down. At 32 degrees Fahrenheit, the molecules will not immediately freeze unless there is something it can attach to. It will take some time before the water bottle freezes. When the temperature of the liquid water is below 32 degrees but it’s not ice, this is called supercooled water. The force caused by contact on the counter will cause the molecules to fall into place and freeze. This is similar to what happens during an ice storm.

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