Sunday, March 9, 2014

Ice Storm 2014

It's 75 degrees outside, so why not dedicate a post to the Ice Storm we experienced in February, 2014?

Deck froggie is COLD

The storm was forecast well in advance, giving us plenty of time to "prepare," theoretically (more on that later).

I woke up Wednesday morning (2/12/14) to a transforming landscape, bitter cold (for here), and eerie beauty.

Can you spot the unscathed red and blue gazing balls?

Looking out at the backyard from my deck, I had a smattering of downed limbs and small trees, amongst which I could still see my gazing balls, intact on their stands. A mixture of light snow and stinging sleet was falling, and the white stuff on the ground kept getting deeper - this was solid ice! It was completely silent in the neighborhood, except for the scattered cracks and booms as pine limbs snapped and fell everywhere. They sounded like shotgun blasts - so loud!

The first day, everything was so beautiful!

Ice accumulating on my trees; snowflakes reflecting in my flash; solid ice on the driveway

Ice encasing a camellia blossom

Ice on a wrought iron deck chair

Ice shrouding a nail on my deck

Ice on spent hydrangea blooms

Ice on deck hook

Ice accumulation on river birch branch

As the day went on, the icy precipitation continued to fall and accumulate. When I wasn't outside taking pics or playing with Bailey, I was inside, all comfy in my PJs, watching TV and drinking cappuccino.

Bailey's soccer ball narrowly escaped being crushed by this falling limb (this pic was taken at 10AM)

Bailey wants to play snow soccer (this picture was taken at 11AM - can you see how much more ice has accumulated?)

Poor Bailey trying to get a foothold on the ice - see how his feet aren't sinking into the white stuff?


Bailey quickly discovered he couldn't really play soccer on solid ice!


My feet, on the other hand, DO sink into the white stuff - this picture was taken at 12 noon - the stuff is now up over my shoe tops!

A friend who lives about 1.5 miles away posted on Facebook, around 11:30 AM, that she had just lost power. I cackled a little bit, comfortable that the underground lines in my neighborhood would keep us safe from that possibility. I also invited her to come over and share my nice warm house and electricity; she declined, preferring to stay warm and cozy in her RV, hooked up to a generator, snuggling with her boyfriend. Whatever!

Storm? What storm?!

Bailey and I continued to alternate between lounging on the sofa, watching TV, and venturing outside for more pictures, enjoying the eerie silence and beauty of the ice.

And then WE lost power at 1:30PM.

No biggie - I hauled out the candles, set them up, lit them, and decided to tube some seed beads by candlelight.

 A battery operated scale and candlelight - what more did I need? (the camera's flash makes it look much brighter in the living room than it really was!)

 I love the look of incredulity Bailey gave me when I sat on the floor instead of the couch!

After one hour of tubing seed beads in the dark, my hands were too cold to continue. I put on more clothes, a hat, and gloves, and wrapped up in a blanket. And sat. And sat. So bored. Obviously, there was no TV. But without electricity, there was also no modem/router, so no internet. No hot water. No showers.

I was much less interested in taking pictures now.

The week wore on - it was cold in the house, but we managed. I tried covering Bailey in a blanket, but he was having none of it. As soon as I'd tuck him in, he'd sigh, get up, and shake it off.

Bailey don't need no stinkin' blanket!

It kept getting colder and colder in the house: I know it was below 40, because that's where my thermostat starts to register. And it was above 32, because the water in the dog bowls wasn't frozen.

To get warm enough to sleep, I scrounged up every blanket in the house, and piled them on top of the comforter on my bed. Some of them I even folded in half lengthwise, to let them serve double duty. I had about 15 blankets piled on top of the comforter, and all I know is, while they DID keep me warm, once I crawled under the comforter and all those blankets I was completely unable to move because of their weight! I felt like a mummy. Couldn't even turn over!

My camera flash makes it look so bright in the house, but it was dark. Even with all the shades up and curtains open, it was too dark to read, and WAY too dark to bead - I had brought home about 6 different beadweaving projects, anticipating a long leisurely week away from the bead shop, with nothing but time for beading! That was my idea of preparing for the storm! Bread? Milk? Peanut Butter? Who needs 'em?! I had beads!! I was so bored.

By Saturday, it was in the 50s and 60s, and much warmer outside than it was inside. I tried opening windows to bring some of the "warmth" inside, but that didn't work.

I had crackers to eat; I couldn't bring myself to eat cold canned soup. I had plenty of canned food, but no way to heat it, and I just couldn't eat it cold! Bailey had plenty of dogfood and treats. The week continued to drag.

Monday morning, I discovered tree crews with bucket trucks in the neighborhood, and hired them to take care of my storm damage. There was no structural damage to the house, but I had bunches of downed trees and limbs, and even more damage up high in the pines (these are 60 - 80 foot tall pines, mostly), where limbs were hanging by pieces of bark, waiting to fall on something or someone. And trees/limbs had caused a good bit of damage to my privacy fence. Big gaping holes.

$15,000: that's what it cost to remove all the damaged trees and limbs on my property. Yikes!

one of my downed trees takes out my fence AND the neighbor's behind me

tree through the fence

More fence damage, more downed trees and limbs

Tree removal in the front yard

I lost about 25 trees this size (and many smaller ones). I tried to count the rings on this stump, and lost count at 150.

The pile of trees and limbs grows in front of my house

By the time the crew finished piling up the trees and limbs (in preparation for hauling them away), the house was no longer visible from the street.


The power finally returned; we had been in the dark and cold for 6.5 days. Of course, I lost all the food my 2 fridges/freezers.

In addition to the expense of the storm removal, look what was even more devastating to me:

This shot shows the SW corner of my backyard before all the damage and cleanup. Lots of trees, and the 2 houses behind me are barely visible (and they were completely obscured in the spring and summer, as the trees and bushes bloomed and filled out).
A few downed limbs in the foreground, but you can see my "woods" in front of my fence, providing me with some scenic privacy.

After the cleanup: all the trees in the back are gone. Just gone.

While the storm took down a lot of limbs and a few trees, the majority of the trees that had to be removed were still standing, but had lost all the chlorophyll-producing branches/limbs at the top, so they would quickly die, and present a hazard for falling later on.

After the cleanup, a full week after the storm, 3 small patches of ice still remain in shady spots in my yard:

I still need to file my insurance claim for the storm damage, but very little of it is covered, since there was no structural damage to the house (fortunately!). My policy doesn't cover fence damage unless an entire contiguous side of the fence is taken down, so I'll have to get out there and repair the damage myself. My policy (and most policies) are damage-based, rather than prevention-based, meaning that while I had to remove a lot of trees and limbs to prevent them from falling and causing either property damage or personal injury in the future, this type of prophylactic removal is not reimbursable. However, if the limbs later fell on a structure OR a person, THEN I could recoup damages. I (wisely) elected not to wait! Unlike my #@&* neighbor next door, who sustained similar damage high up in his tall pine trees, and when my tree removal contractor pointed out the inherent damage he'd suffer, my neighbor told him to mind his own business, and that nature would eventually take the damaged limbs and trees down. The contractor was kind enough to provide me with an affidavit outlining this conversation, so that when these limbs fall (they all overhang my fence), my neighbor can't claim "act of God", and will instead be facing a negligence situation.

Now back to your regularly scheduled blog!

3 comments:

Halinka said...

Hello:
I am terribly sorry for You,that You had to experience such weather fenomenon.
I hate such things and experienced them lots of times,when I lived in Poland.Not only Summers were dangerous,because of thunderstorms and heavy winds,but Winters as well,with the snowstorms,sudden huge frosts and gale force winds.
I hated it and was afraid very much each time.
Luckily,I've changed the country and moved to Sweden and here the climate is much more stable and there's nothing to get feared here.
Your all photos are wonderful and frightening at the same time.
-Best Greetings-my good thoughts are with You.
-Halinka-

Sweet Freedom said...

Thanks, Halinka. This is a rare occurrence for us, fortunately!

KJ said...

Ice storms are a nightmare. Although I have to admit they are beautiful.

You probably should have stayed inside during the storm to avoid falling tree limbs. Glad you weathered the storm.