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.
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.
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.
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.
It was about a half an hour before sunset, so the shadows were long.
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.
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.
Last updated on 16 February 2020 by Jim Grey