There are three main types of winter precipitation. They are snow, freezing rain and sleet.
The form of precipitation that inflicts the most damage per year is freezing rain, about 300 million dollars in damage across the USA.
Freezing rain is liquid water, freezing on contact with surfaces. When it rains and temperatures are below freezing, ice accumulates and coats tree branches, power lines, decks, over passes and sometimes the main roads.
When 3/8" or more of ice accumulates, it is considered a major ice storm. The weight of the ice on the tree branches and power lines can cause them to break, creating widespread power outages.
Not only can major power outages be an issue, but ice is the hardest to drive on. This can create havoc on the roads. Ice is also the hardest to walk on, so slip and falls increase.
Freezing rain is different than sleet. Sleet is a frozen rain drop or an ice pellet. It does not coat surfaces.
So, when we say a chance for sleet and freezing rain, hope for more sleet!