Monday, December 15, 2008

I See Whether

Perhaps you heard about the ice storm that swept through NH last Thursday night.

Our power disappeared about 11:00 p.m. Thursday night and was not seen again for almost 3 days. It returned from it’s vacation around 4:00 p.m. on Sunday. We are among the lucky ones. As of Monday morning almost 160,000 people were still without power. 

Ice storms are strange beasts. It’s is warm enough aloft to rain, cold enough below so that what water hit the surface soon freezes. The ice builds up layer on layer, coating everything: roads, rocks, cars, houses, grass and trees. When it collects on trees, it bends them, breaks them, and all that breaking and bending wreaks havoc with the power grid as the trees drop and lean on the power lines. Unless you have a wood burning stove, no electric power means no heat, as the furnaces all require electricity to operate. When the temps drop to the single digits, as they did Friday and Saturday night, you may see frozen and burst pipes, and all manner of other mayhem.

We managed the crisis by moving in temporarily with some friends who had an electric generator, and then moving the generator around to 4 different houses, just enough to run the furnace to heat the pipes and keep things from freezing. The girls thought it was all a lark, as they got to spend two days sleeping over with their friends. I guess that’s good. The grown ups spent some time drinking wine and chatting, but mostly just got by managing a merged household with 6 girls.

The photos here don't show it, but there were too many trees down to count, and that's just the ones that could be seen from the road -- or more correctly stated, the ones that were lying in, on, across or near the road. Oak branches broken and hanging akimbo. Birches leaning and draping themselves across that way as if much too tired. Shattered pine tops hanging from power lines, or the remains lying smashed on the ice covered pavement. Hard to imagine how much more deadfall litters the floor of the woods. I was listening to it come down Thursday morning, smashing and tinkling as the branches would break and careen to the ground along with their glassy coatings.

In just getting to our friend's house, I had to drive under at least 2 downed lines that were hanging diagonally across the road, not touching the road, but blocking off one side. It's remarkable that the damage wasn't worse. From what I've seen, our area got off fairly easy compared to the southwestern part of the state. 

Today (Monday) temps approached 50 degrees outside. Go figure.

There’s still over 100,000 people without power. 


Assistant Village Idiot's wife said...

Glad to hear you are back up. I am very very VERY grateful for my power being back on. You didn't have your woodstove going?

Bonnie said...

Awesome pictures! Great use of the word akimbo! So...when you comin' to Florida?

The Scylding said...

Florida - hurricanes?

Here in Saskatchewan, we live above the "horrible weather belt". In winter, we rarely see melting - so much less ice. The snow is also dry, so much easier to dispose of. And at 20 below, the snow becomes much harder, so less slipping. But - our homes are generally well insulated, so the extreme cold is not that bad. And we get only 2 feet of snow per winter on average, cumulatively.

So, counter-intuitively, it is actually easier here in the northern part of the mid-continent during winter. I'm quite happy not to live further south/east....

But I'm to hear you're fine, and that you got weather things with friends and wine...