A huge part of the U.S., from New Mexico to Connecticut, is looking at two days of freezing rain starting tonight. Freezing rain occurs when a thin layer of cold air at the surface brings all objects - cars, roads, trees, powerlines, etc. to below freezing temperatures - and warmer air aloft keeps the precipitation from turning to snow, so it falls and turns to ice as soon as it hits ground.
It is probably the nastiest weather that doesn’t have massive wind associated with it. Trees freeze and snap off mid-trunk due to the weight of the ice. Power lines and utility towers crumple. Roads turn to skating rinks that make four-wheel-drive vehicles useless. Old men and ladies break hips going out to get the mail or newspaper. It really sucks.
It looks like the worst of it will be in the central midwest - Oklahoma City, Kansas City and St. Louis look to be in the bullseye. As it progresses, central Illinois, Indiana and the Northeast should get hit. I’ve been in Ok. City when an inch and a half of snow shut it down. I wouldn’t want to be trying to get to work there tomorrow morning.
We had a minor ice storm a week ago. Minor in my area, anyway. The local TV website reported 36 people hospitalized in Des Moines with injuries from falls, including a TV reporter (young guy) who fell and broke his hip.
I really hope you’re right. Driving back yesterday with my new housemate in yesterday’s mess was enough for this desert woman. She was on the phone with her mother today and said, “I think I scared BlueKangaroo to death driving home.” I wasn’t that scared, but I also wasn’t happy.
The link goes to the Great Ice Storm of '98, which stalled over the St. Lawrence Valley for a week in January 1998. Ice accumulated 10 cm thick on power lines and buildings, collapsing towers, cutting off electricity and causing mass evacuations when heat and water failed. The army was three hours from evacuating Montreal when they managed to get temporary power lines restored.
For reference, a 10-cm-thick slab of ice a metre on a side masses 100 kg. Imagine those dropping off thirty-storey buildings and crushing cars.
But a really good ice storm is so pretty. Just pretty. We had one in my town about 16 or 17 years ago that was so breath-takingly stunning that the images are seared in my brain for eternity. I was just a teenager, but I remember making the very mature decision to stop in my tracks and just look at all the beauty of it. I bet if I were an adult that had to take part in paying for the repairs to the cars and the roof and paying the bills when we had no way to get to work, and no power for days…I bet if I had to deal with all that, the beauty of it would have not left such an impression that it did.
I was in New Hampshire, at the southern edge of the damage range for that storm. We were comparatively lucky; we only lost power for about three days (my sister went 10), and there was only minor damage to the house from falling trees. I can only imagine what it was like where the storm really hit.
Despite all the threats that the various maps give me, I think it’s going to miss me. It looks like they’ve allready had issues in St. Louis, but it was all rain for us. Technically, we are under an ice storm warning, but I can’t imagine it icing when it is this warm.
For us Americans that think metric stuff is a bunch of hooey, that is a slab of ice 4 inches thick, about a yard square and weighs about 220 pounds. And yes, I used a metric conversion calculator to figure it out.
Because of that storm I spent my last leave before going off to war (Well, sure, I wasn’t actually in the combat zone, but that just doesn’t sound as cool, now does it?) bailing out my parents’ basement. By hand. And it was when my parents bit the bullet about having to put our dog down, because he seemed to have lung cancer and it was really interfering with his ability to breathe.
So, while I agree there’s something ethereal about how the world looks covered in half a centimeter or so of ice… I really hate the stuff, and the memories of that storm, in particular.
I hope this doesn’t do a repeat of that North Country storm. The one here in Rochester was pretty small and localized, IIRC.
Unfortunately, none of the precipitation from this is likely to get to my part of the country. NC is still in the midst of a severe drought. I’m glad that I no longer need to worry about the winter storms in Chicago, but I a little rain would be welcome about now.
I was in one in Jackson MS, on a Greyhound bus some time back around 1988. Car coming the other direction did a little fishtail followed by a 1190° slow-motion spinout while car’s center of mass continued original trajectory at about 20 MPH and whacked into side of bus. Waited for police. Police car came up behind us, tapped brakes, broke wheels loose, and police car gently sailed into other car at about 2 MPH. The four cars behind it came to a stop by means of smacking into whatever vehicle was in front of them. Police officer got out of car, took two steps and did a butt plant. Got up holding onto police car door latch and while still holding onto it lost his footing again and went down pretty hard on one knee.
Greyhound driver actually got us to the station (an amazing feat) then announced to no one’s surprise that none of the connecting buses would be departing the station that night.
I move to the Great Frozen North, where everyone assures me It Freezes The Testicles Off Caterpillars from October to March, and I have no idea what weather is in store for me.
“Great!” think I, for I love me some really cold, nasty, dangerous winter weather, “This is going to be so awesome! Finally, real snow, real ice, so cold it’ll do that song justice and I really will stay with the skeevy guy 'cause it’s cold outside!”
Ahem. No snow 'til late November, the streets clear after a day, absolutely no fear of hypothermia in the air, and now there’s an ice storm on the continent and I’m missing it?
I’m in Stillwater, North of OKC. There was ice on the ground this morning, which made walking to the wrestling dual/lunch interesting. But it was melting off.
The worst should hit tonight, and Monday finals may or may not be canceled. I’m really hoping not, because the reschedule plan will mess up my break. OU has already canceled class, messing up their finals schedule.
Ahhh, memories. Actually, the top picture on that link, of the damaged trees… it’s been nearly 10 years, and you still see the effect of that storm in certain regions. We drive down Highway 10 from Montreal to Sherbrooke a lot, and in the Granby area, if you look at the woods along the road, you’ll see a lot of the trees have a large bend to them! It’s amazing how much weight a tree can take - I mean, they permanently lean by a few degrees! - and still survive. And it’s amazing that there was so much ice, it was possible to make millions (?) of trees bend over!
And it was beautiful! We were lucky, having only lost power for a few hours, but we took in 3 kids, the children of one of my father’s employees. At that point, they had been in a community centre with hundreds of other people for a week. Washing involved using a cupful of barely warmed water and scrubbing themselves with a washcloth. They had their little staked out area of floor, and that was it. They spent the first 2 hours at our place in the tub, just getting clean and warm and feeling safe!
Good luck to anyone getting hit out there, and stay safe! If you don’t have to go out, don’t!