Scenes from the ice storm

As last week began, the weather forecast called for two ice storms in as many days. It looked like it could be very serious – up to an inch and a half of ice, which would cause trees to fall and power lines to snap. The electric companies warned that if the worst happened, power could be cut for days or even weeks. The governor even went on TV to urge Hoosiers to be prepared.

My home has an electric furnace and an electric well pump, so losing electricity makes my house a whole lot less useful. I’ve lost power for long periods on two other occasions, which wasn’t much fun, but at least it was summertime. I’d rather roast without air conditioning than freeze without heat! Just the same, I set aside a few gallons of drinking water and filled the tub with water I could use to flush the toilet. Then I settled in and waited.

The first wave came through Monday night and Tuesday morning, coating everything in a thin layer of ice. Thankfully, it wasn’t enough to bring power lines down.

Ice-covered evergreen

I brought my laptop computer from work so I could work from home, at least as long as I had power. Remembering the great photo opportunities from the last ice storm I experienced, more than 20 years ago, when the freezing rain stopped late Tuesday morning I went outside with my camera.

Ice-covered shrub

The second wave hit Tuesday night. TV meteorologists said that it would start out as sleet and change over to freezing rain, and that the later the changeover the better. Fortunately, it sleeted for hours. I’ve never seen so much sleet. This evening shot over my deck shows how it accumulated. It may look like snow, but when I picked up a handful it felt like fine, cold pellets. Those that didn’t melt in my warm hands ran like sand.

Sleet-covered deck

The freezing rain came as I went to bed. For a couple hours in the middle of the night I kept being awakened as I heard things scraping along my roof. A few trees stand close to the house, and I worried that they were dropping heavy, icy branches. So when I woke up, grateful to find the house still electrified, I dressed and went outside to check for damage.

What I didn’t know was that overnight the temperature rose to about 35 degrees before falling again to below freezing. That caused everything to start to melt and then freeze right back up — including all that sleet on the ground. So I took one step out of my front door and immediately slipped and fell. I landed hard, hitting my head and spraining my wrist. I was fortunate not to need medical attention. I walked around the house and found no downed limbs. I wondered what made those scraping sounds. My roof was covered with ice; could it have shifted? And then I slipped and fell again, but fortunately that time I landed squarely on my butt.

The mayor asked that people travel only if absolutely necessary, so I worked from home yet another day. I went out again later, walking much more carefully, to take more pictures. My yard was frozen so hard that my steps didn’t break through the ice. I tried jumping up and down to break through, but even that didn’t work. Then I realized I was risking landing on my butt again, and stopped.

Shadows over the frozen yard

It was about a half an hour before sunset, so the shadows were long.

Shadows over the frozen yard

I was in such a groove of getting things done that I worked from home again on Thursday, even though reports were that the roads were passable. But by Thursday afternoon, cabin fever was setting in. I went to the office on Friday.

My sons came over Friday evening for the weekend, and then Saturday morning about five inches of snow fell. Finally, a chance for them to help me shovel the driveway! We made short work of it, shoveling down to the underlying ice, which hadn’t gotten any less slippery. All of us, including our dog, had trouble keeping our footing. But with three of us working, we weren’t outside for long.

Dog in the snow

Some of my neighbors were out with spades breaking up the ice on their driveways, but with my wrist still sore I decided that since God put the ice there, he’ll have to take it away. This has been a long and relentless winter, and I’m quite ready to see it go.

You’d think that it would make sense to just head south for the winter. I tried it once, and when I came home, Indiana had its revenge. Read that story.


12 responses to “Scenes from the ice storm”

  1. Todd Pack Avatar

    Nice pictures! Nothing ruins your day as much as hearing that sleet pepper your window at 4 a.m. and knowing you still have to get up and go to work.

    1. Jim Avatar

      So it goes when you live in Indiana!

  2. Mike Avatar

    Nicely told and photographed. About 30,000 New Mexicans spent much of the last week without heat. Albuquerque was largely untroubled, and we are told temps will be back in the 60s next week. I guess I’ll have to go back to feeling guilty about the rest of the country.

    1. Jim Avatar

      Thanks Mike! Thousands in Indiana lost power, but mostly to the west of Indianapolis. I feel like we dodged a bullet here. Fortunately, our temps will rise to the low 40s next week and my skating-rink driveway will quickly become less treacherous.

  3. Tori Nelson Avatar

    Yikes! All of us in Tennessee are total wusses. Two inches of soft snow, and we’ve been locked inside for days! Great pictures and major kudos to you for weathering the storm(s)!

    1. Jim Avatar

      I’m from northern Indiana. When I grew up, we routinely got 80-100 inches of snow a year. So Indianapolis winters, which usually average about 35 inches of snow, seem downright tropical to me.

      But I could happily live in the hills of Tennessee! Two inches of snow barely registers on my radar. Of course, if that much snow shuts you down, it would probably shut me down, too, as you probably don’t remove the snow well, and nobody knows how to drive in it!

  4. Michael Avatar

    Your yard doesn’t look very smooth at all in those pics. Our’s was a literal “sheet of glass” as they say. I had fun skating around. :) I guess Terre Haute had it the worst, but we only lost power for a short bit while others were out 40 or so hours.

    1. Jim Avatar

      Yeah, it didn’t look smooth, but it was slicker ‘n snot just the same. My driveway looks like a sheet of glass right now, though. I’m sooooooo glad I cleaned out the garage last month and can park in there now.

  5. Lone Primate Avatar
    Lone Primate

    Those are some gorgeous shots! I love ice storm shots. I remember one years ago, and walking through a parkette near my place with a buddy of mine just after dark. The street lights made the place look like something out of Narnia. I’ve never forgotten it. I only wish I’d had a camera lugging around 20 years ago! Drat those pre-digital days. :)

    1. Jim Avatar

      Man, I would love to come upon a Narnian scene like that with camera in hand! My new Canon S95 is so thin I can carry it around in my front jeans pocket. It’s the same form factor as my Palm Pre, but about twice as thick.

      1. Lone Primate Avatar
        Lone Primate

        Holy cow, you got the S95? A friend of mine has the S90 (that I waited for Canon to come out with in vain for two years) and it’s a snazzy little thing. I can only imagine what the next jump up is like. :)

        1. Jim Avatar

          Yes, my family bought me the S95 for Christmas! It offers a few improvements over the S90, such as HD video and less fiddly controls.

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