Ice Storms and Climate Change

Thousands of homes in Toronto, including ours, are without power due to an ice storm. More precisely, freezing rain builds up as ice on tree branches, which then break, taking down power lines with them. When I was out this morning, I heard and saw a couple of large branches fall. They are warning that it may take 72 hours or more to restore service. This is a much bigger problem in winter than summer as the nights are well below freezing and freezing pipes becomes a problem. In our case, we also have hot water heating and freezing of this system is also a worry. Fortunately, there hasn’t been any wind so far – but there could be wind tonight, which would really exacerbate the problem.

Thus far, we haven’t heard any attempts to relate the ice storm to rolling loaded dice, but it’s early yet.


110 Comments

  1. Gerald Machnee
    Posted Dec 22, 2013 at 1:49 PM | Permalink

    I have heard one hydro employee saying it was the worst ice storm ever. I think memories are short. Ice storms are nor new. I think the one that affected Quebec about 1998???, was worse in that area.
    I also remember being on the base at CFB Trenton in 1968 when a severe storm hit. Some of us were skating on the streets on the base until the base commander told us not to. I had returned from Ottawa on a bus during the freezing rain. The wipers could not keep up with the accumulation on the windshield.

  2. Posted Dec 22, 2013 at 1:53 PM | Permalink

    Thanks, Steve, for all your efforts to restore integrity to government-funded science. FEAR of “power beyond the dreams of scientific fiction” led to the demise of modern science [1].

    Best wishes to you and yours for the Holidays and the New Year!
    Oliver K. Manuel

    1. A Journey to the Core of the Sun: 2. Acceptance of reality

    https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/10640850/Chapter_2.pdf

  3. TerryMN
    Posted Dec 22, 2013 at 1:53 PM | Permalink

    Best of luck on a speedy restoration of service.

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours, Steve!

  4. Douglas Foss
    Posted Dec 22, 2013 at 1:54 PM | Permalink

    Rochester saw a severe ice storm in 1991. The storm took down trees over a huge swath of New York State south of Lake Ontario, including the entire Rochester metropolitan area. The disaster arose from a combination of a slow moving front and supercooled raindrops that froze on contact with tree limbs, cars, roads and anything else underneath them. Many homes were without power for a week. Our family was fortunate and lacked power only for five days in March, when days reached above freezing. We drained the water pipes in the house, which prevented damage from subfreezing temperatures.

    • Bernie Hutchins
      Posted Dec 23, 2013 at 1:20 AM | Permalink

      Douglas – I remember that. Looked like Hiroshima down toward the Bristol Hills. But as powerful as Nature was in destruction, She was equally skilled at repairing – Her own stuff anyway! Natural things looked pretty normal in a few years. But people had to fix their own stuff. So much for the relative strengths of people and Nature. Lesson there?

  5. Jeff Alberts
    Posted Dec 22, 2013 at 2:08 PM | Permalink

    When I was stationed at Ft Riley, KS in 1983/84, we had a severe ice storm that winter. Haven’t seen one that bad since, anywhere else I’ve lived.

  6. b4llzofsteel
    Posted Dec 22, 2013 at 2:14 PM | Permalink

    Power lines should be in the ground, not above…

    • JEM
      Posted Dec 23, 2013 at 12:13 PM | Permalink

      Around here they are, but then we’re not much above SF Bay water level and for the first fifteen years we lived here we had a quarterly power outage ranging from a few hours to a day where something, somewhere, shorted out due to water ingress.

      They’re doing much better recently. I’m sure I’ll regret having said that.

    • timg56
      Posted Dec 23, 2013 at 4:26 PM | Permalink

      Balls,

      It depends on what your objectives are. Burying distribution circuits is pretty standard these days, at least where densities make it cost acceptable. Start getting out into less urban areas and the cost per customer goes up. It is also much cheaper to install electrical service under ground when you are initially building the circuit. Converting existing overhead to underground service is a lot more expensive.

      Transmission is a different story. Most transmission is not under ground. Big storms that take down transmission lines are the ones which leave the largest numbers of customers out of service. On the other hand, the order of restoration for utilities starts with transmission lines. As a customer, what sucks is when you’ve lost service because the line from the transformer to your house is down. That is the lowest item on the restoration list. Worst is when it takes out the weather head on your home. The power company can’t restore service until the customer gets that fixed.

  7. mrmethane
    Posted Dec 22, 2013 at 2:14 PM | Permalink

    I tip my hat to the hard-working BC Hydro folks who did a major tree-trimming job a few years back, to minimize the chances of snow and ice-laden trees taking out power lines. Despite severe storms the past couple of years, outages have been (my subjective observation) relatively few and of relatively short duration. THat doesn’t stop the suspersticious locals from complaining about a) electromagnetic health threats, and b) blaming everything on climate change. God bless this little island!

    • Keith Sketchley
      Posted Dec 26, 2013 at 7:12 PM | Permalink

      A few years ago there seemed to be a correlation in the Puget Sound area of WA state between power outages in windstorms and aggressive tree trimming in different fiefdoms.

      The power utility serving Everett WA appeared to be aggressive, the one serving Kirkland WA wimpy.

      In the Juanita area of Kirkland a problem was dead trees near a major road where power lines were. There’s always a few dead trees in a forest, only takes one to take down a power line, I saw one or two every block – took utility crews days to get them all. I suppose owners of those deep properties didn’t pay attention as they would near their buildings.

      A growing problem is politicians obstructing removal of trees by requiring permits and arborist evaluation. A tree falling in the middle of a wet winter night is a disaster for the elderly lady whose house it hits, both at the moment and financially.

      (Yes, “seemed” – not even pal reviewed. ;-)

  8. timetochooseagain
    Posted Dec 22, 2013 at 2:49 PM | Permalink

    I don’t know about ice, but the relationship between snowfall and temperature displays interesting nonlinearities in Canada:

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/1999JD900104/abstract

    Which is to say that in sufficiently cold places, yes, warmer temperatures will actually be associated with higher amounts of snowfall.

    I don’t think Toronto this time of year qualifies, but I haven’t examined it too closely.

    • chris moffatt
      Posted Dec 26, 2013 at 2:39 PM | Permalink

      No news to anybody who has lived North of 50……sometimes science takes a long time to catch up

    • Keith Sketchley
      Posted Dec 26, 2013 at 6:55 PM | Permalink

      Well, yeah, colder winter temperatures occur when the sky is clear thus there is no snow falling – it’s thermodynamics.

      In NE BC in the 50s I saw two weeks of -40 some years, clear and cold.

      Similarly in the last few weeks in SW BC – only freezes at night when the sky is clear. (Weather has been mixed sun-cloud-rain (snow at higher elevations).)

      • Keith Sketchley
        Posted Dec 26, 2013 at 6:59 PM | Permalink

        Regional factors may apply aw well – IIRC the western Arctic islands don’t get a great deal of snow, for example.

        • timetochooseagain
          Posted Dec 26, 2013 at 7:29 PM | Permalink

          They do note an interesting effect of the Rocky Mountains on the temp-snow relationships.

  9. Speed
    Posted Dec 22, 2013 at 3:09 PM | Permalink

    The North American Ice Storm of 1998 (also known as Great Ice Storm of 1998 and Great Ice Storm ’98) was a massive combination of five smaller successive ice storms which combined to strike a relatively narrow swath of land from eastern Ontario to southern Quebec to Nova Scotia in Canada, and bordering areas from northern New York to central Maine in the United States, in January 1998. It caused massive damage to trees and electrical infrastructure all over the area, leading to widespread long-term power outages. Millions were left in the dark for periods varying from days to weeks, and in some instances, months. It led to 35 fatalities, a shutdown of activities in large cities like Montreal and Ottawa, and an unprecedented effort in reconstruction of the power grid. The ice storm led to the largest deployment of Canadian military personnel since the Korean War, with over 16,000 Canadian Forces personnel deployed, 12,000 in Quebec and 4,000 in Ontario at the height of the crisis.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_American_ice_storm_of_1998

    • TAG
      Posted Dec 22, 2013 at 6:51 PM | Permalink

      I lived through the great 1998 ice storm near Ottawa. it was everything that people said about it. There were 7 major power lines bring energy to Montreal. Six of them failed and the other was near failure. Power was cycled through the city in order to supply water pumping stations. A city without water cannot function. There would be no water for sanitation and no water to fight fires. There were serious plans being made to evacuate Montreal a city of several million people.

      Having lived through that, I faced the weather forecast last week with trepidation. I know what freezing rain can do. Fortunately for me, I live well north of the area affected by rain. Our area only received a good but not terribly excessive amount of snow. My sympathies go out to the people to the people in Toronto, southern and eastern Ontario and the other areas affected by this storm.

    • TAG
      Posted Dec 22, 2013 at 6:58 PM | Permalink

      In the Ice Storm of 1998, there were three successive days of rain. The rain on each day exceeded the previous single day records. Repair crews attended my area on the morning of the first day. They left two days later with the power still out. Trees were falling over incessantly and repairs could not keep up with the damage.

  10. Speed
    Posted Dec 22, 2013 at 3:11 PM | Permalink

    More on the 1998 event …

    … The most famous meteorological aspect of this storm was the devastating and destructive ice accumulation of more than 3 inches (75mm) in portions of northern New York and southeast Canada, with heavy ice accumulation across northern New England as well. Another major aspect of this storm was the extremely heavy precipitation across the region, including over 5 inches of rain that caused major flooding in portions of western New York, especially the Black River Valley.

    http://www.erh.noaa.gov/btv/events/IceStorm1998/ice98.shtml

  11. dfhunter
    Posted Dec 22, 2013 at 3:20 PM | Permalink

    well I was going to wish you and yours a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Steve, but will now add safe and warm to above wish.
    all the best.

  12. Anthony Watts
    Posted Dec 22, 2013 at 3:21 PM | Permalink

    Steve, I think we have a winner.

    From: A SCAN OF CLIMATE CHANGE IMPACTS ON TORONTO

    http://www.cleanairpartnership.org/pdf/climate_change_scan.pdf

    “A study recently completed by Environment Canada, suggests an increased risk of ice storms in Toronto in the future (Cheng 2006).”

    Now it is just a matter of time for MSM to pick up on this.

  13. pottereaton
    Posted Dec 22, 2013 at 3:42 PM | Permalink

    In the early 70s in New Jersey, a friend of mine woke up one morning to find his old Citroen coated with a quarter inch of ice. He was late to work and in a moment in which his brain must have stopped working, he thought he take a baseball bat to break the ice off the windshield. Bad idea. Ever try and find a windshield for a ten year old Citroen?

    • JEM
      Posted Dec 23, 2013 at 12:18 PM | Permalink

      Which of course now would be a fifty-year-old Citroen, but even at that I’d bet the all-seeing Google or its near-equivalents could find you one in a day or so now.

  14. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 22, 2013 at 4:08 PM | Permalink

    I remember the trees being completed coated in ice a couple of times when I was a teenager. On those occasions, the weather turned to sunny (and cold) and the landscape was beautiful. I don’t recall power outages at the time. The city trees in downtown neighborhoods are probably bigger and older now than 50 years ago though.

    I didn’t mention that a branch fell on our car, breaking a window.

    Our son who lives in Thailand is visiting with his wife and daughters. Not the trip that he’d envisaged.

    • Geoff Sherrington
      Posted Dec 22, 2013 at 6:39 PM | Permalink

      Steve or others affected
      Any chance of some photos?
      We Down Under don’t get to see events like this.
      All the best for 2014.

      • ianl8888
        Posted Dec 22, 2013 at 6:56 PM | Permalink


        We Down Under don’t get to see events like this

        Not to nearly the degree described here, but ice storms of much less intensity are not unknown in the peak Blue Mountains about 2 hours west of Sydney – iced roads, overloaded tree limbs bringing down power lines etc

        • Nicholas
          Posted Dec 24, 2013 at 6:18 AM | Permalink

          There was that time about fifteen years ago in Sydney where we got nearly baseball-sized hail though. I seriously thought we were being shelled when it started (with absolutely no warning) and from the holes in the roof, I wasn’t far off. When I went outside, the ground was covered with ice, most trees had been defoliated and the cars looked like somebody had taken a baseball bat to them.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1999_Sydney_hailstorm

      • TAG
        Posted Dec 22, 2013 at 7:00 PM | Permalink

        The Toronto Star (www.thestar.com) has a live blog with pictures sent in by citizens

        http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2013/12/22/ice_storm_2013_readers_share_their_photos.html#

        • JEM
          Posted Dec 23, 2013 at 12:20 PM | Permalink

          Yesterday it was 75 degrees (F) in Newport Beach. Today it’s going to be close to that here.

          We haven’t really had a winter yet.

        • Geoff Sherrington
          Posted Dec 23, 2013 at 5:46 PM | Permalink

          TAG,
          Thanks for the link. It must be quite hard to live with. Geoff.

    • Jimmy Haigh
      Posted Dec 23, 2013 at 10:09 AM | Permalink

      I live in Thailand too. It’s the cool season now and the weather has been lovely for the last month or so. Temperatures in Pattaya, 100km south east of Bangkok, have been in the range 18-22C at night and up to 27-30 during the day. It’s been much colder up north with temperatures below 8C, for example, in Chiang Mai. It’s been a bit cooler than normal winters and a bit chilly for the locals.

  15. Otter (ClimateOtter on Twitter)
    Posted Dec 22, 2013 at 4:09 PM | Permalink

    I never knew you lived that close to us.

    We had a lot of ice here last night in the Niagara Peninsula, but the sun has come out in the past hour and the ice has all but vanished.

  16. Posted Dec 22, 2013 at 4:27 PM | Permalink

    In January, 2000 we had an ice storm in Atlanta. Over 300,000 people were without power, many for several days. Georgia is in the land of the pine tree, which I believe is the weed of the tree family. After the storm cleanup, people began having their pine trees cut. Most of us view them as dangerous, and feel no environmental angst when a pine tree is cut, chipped, or otherwise murdered.

    Good luck, Steve!

  17. Chris in Tropical Queensland.
    Posted Dec 22, 2013 at 4:31 PM | Permalink

    How do you guys put up with that sort of weather ??
    Hervey Bay today, 29C max, 18C min. With cool SE sea breeze.
    Time to immigrate I would think !

  18. Posted Dec 22, 2013 at 4:48 PM | Permalink

    Having been in TO with no power in the winter it really is no fun at all. Let’s hope you get your power back quickly Steve.

    Have as Merry a Christmas as possible!

  19. Posted Dec 22, 2013 at 4:52 PM | Permalink

    Dear Steve,

    I know Canada is home, but deadly ice storms, high risk of plummeting global temperature (with a non zero risk this could be the big one), incompetently maintained vital infrastructure – it could be a matter of life and death, with your life in the hands of idiots. How long do you want to risk putting up with all that?

    We live in Hervey Bay (Hi Chris – small world :-) ).

    A part of the world where it is always warm, and the temperature varies by 10c over the year has a lot to recommend it. You get the odd cyclone up here, but the houses are well built – it takes a direct hit from a twister to damage them. Even a substantial drop in global temperature will leave this place with a still very pleasant climate.

    In Australia, we have already seen the start of what I believe are quiet preparations for global cooling – there is an ongoing scandal of massive foreign buyouts of Australian farmland, though so far nobody in the media is asking why anyone would spend billions to buy productive land which the IPCC predicts will shortly become a dustbowl.

    http://www.billheffernan.com.au/Media/LatestNews/tabid/87/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/148/Farmland-buy-out-sparks-register-move.aspx

    When the world wakes up that they’ve been lied to, and realises how cold it will get, warm countries like Australia will be forced to slam the door shut to new arrivals.

    Best to move now, while Australia is still open.

    Australia – what Canada would be like if it had a warm climate.

    Regards,
    Eric

  20. Gerald Machnee
    Posted Dec 22, 2013 at 5:35 PM | Permalink

    This “warming” aspect hit southern Manitoba in March-April of 1983 and 1984. The freezing rain was continuous for 24-30 hours. It took a couple of weeks to restore power to farms. One thousand foot high TV towers collapsed from the weight. As the main lines from the north went down we received some power from Ontario. I think a result of this was an improved emergency plan for Manitoba Hydro including sensors and quicker de-icing on lines. We did have a bad one recently, but I was in Hawaii remotely watching the “ice” Super Bowl.

  21. Speed
    Posted Dec 22, 2013 at 6:40 PM | Permalink

    Cliff Mass at the University of Washington just posted on the dangers of icy roads and a rational local response. This may seem a little quaint to those living in the lee of the Great Lakes.

    A quick check of the State’s accident data base indicated that thousands of accidents and dozens of deaths each year were associated with icy roadways. In fact, it became evident that icy roadways were the number one meteorological cause of death and injury in Washington State. Not flooding, not windstorms, not tornadoes, but icy roads.

    As I finished more and more cases, an interesting issue became apparent: although many of the accidents were associated with poor driving (generally excessive speed during icy/snow conditions), many were associated with inadequate responses of Departments of Transportation.
    [ … ]
    Furthermore, the City put temperature sensors into critical Seattle roadways and supported the development of the SNOWWATCH web site, which brings all the snow-related weather information together for its effective use by city maintenance personnel and Seattle residents.

    http://cliffmass.blogspot.com/2013/12/protecting-drivers-from-icy-roads-we.html

    • tomdesabla
      Posted Dec 25, 2013 at 9:40 PM | Permalink

      One thing about when you hear the term “speed related” – you have to remember that everybody speeds, all the time pretty much, so every thing that happens could be called “speed related.”

      IN 2011, the U.S. saw the fewest total number of highway fatalities in over 60 years, but I haven’t heard anyone saying that this historic statistic is “speed related.”

      Just sayin…

      Merry Christmas everyone.

  22. Curious George
    Posted Dec 22, 2013 at 6:59 PM | Permalink

    @Anthony: The complete Cheng 2006 reference is: Cheng, S. (2006). Environment Canada. Personal communication (paper in preparation).

  23. EdeF
    Posted Dec 22, 2013 at 8:11 PM | Permalink

    Lived through freezing rain ice storms in Portland, Or in the late 70s, mainly first
    week of January. Trees, cars totally coated with huge chunks of ice, power off for
    awhile. Be careful up there, avoid walking under ice-coated trees.

  24. Dale R. McIntyre
    Posted Dec 22, 2013 at 11:40 PM | Permalink

    Dear Mr. McIntyre,

    Please be careful not to approach those broken ice-laden branches until you are sure they do not conceal a live power-line.

    And I urge you not to try to clear your driveway until better weather melts it for you. My brother is a physician who every year sees heart attack victims after snow and ice storms of this sort, from the unaccustomed exercise of shoveling snow or chipping ice.

    All best wishes for a quick return to better weather.

  25. Posted Dec 23, 2013 at 12:35 AM | Permalink

    I spent 3 days without power after a huge dump of heavy snow a few years back. We lived on a small gulf island in BC. Wood stove kept us warm. Groceries went into rubbermaid tubs and sat in the snow. Love my wood stove.

    This year we had a 2 day power outage in April. The rubbermaid trick doesn’t work in April. But I did cook up some of the food on the wood stove. Got too warm inside though.

  26. Posted Dec 23, 2013 at 3:35 AM | Permalink

    Yes, we had a really bad ice storm in Charlotte back in 2002. It was exasperated by a very dry summer, which weakened many trees and branches. About 1.3 million lost power in the Charlotte region, some for as long as two weeks.

    Well, I certainly hope it isn’t that bad for you, Steve. Have a great Christmas and a happy new year!

    • PhilH
      Posted Dec 23, 2013 at 7:01 PM | Permalink

      Hi Ted: Yes, I remember well the 2002 ice storm in Charlotte. We had no power for five days. We were sleeping with the dogs.

  27. MrPete
    Posted Dec 23, 2013 at 6:41 AM | Permalink

    To bring it back to paleoclimate, it sounds like you got to see up close and personal how a storm just might affect treemometers in the wild.

    Remember the Almagre BCP’s ripped apart (but still alive) due to the weight of winter snow/ice? (Click on the magnifying glass above the photo to zoom in…)

    Merry Christmas to all!

  28. Jeff Norman
    Posted Dec 23, 2013 at 7:12 AM | Permalink

    Steve,

    I wish you speedy return of your electricity, certainly before Christmas. I wish that for us too. Our power in the Beach went out at about noon yesterday.

    On my way into work this morning I heard an up to the minute report on 680 news that helpfully indicated that the number of people in the GTA without power was “approximately thousands”. Toronto Hydro is holding at about 244,000 in Toronto alone.

    The good news (for us anyway) is that my driveway was covered with ice that had fallen off the trees and wires.

    • AntonyIndia
      Posted Dec 23, 2013 at 9:47 AM | Permalink

      After a category 1 cyclone here 2 years ago we lost electricity for 3 weeks…. As black outs are a regular phenomenon in India most middle class people have a UPS plus a big lead acid battery for back up. Very few could manage 3 weeks without additional solar panel charging.
      On the positive side the temperature didn’t go below 20 C.

    • Steve McIntyre
      Posted Dec 23, 2013 at 2:53 PM | Permalink

      Still no power. The temperature in our house is now close to freezing. We’re staying at a friend’s house less than a mile away, but they have their power. They were going to their ski chalet for a few days anyway. We’ve left a couple of taps running but I’m worried about freezing. It looks like a cold night.

      Thus far, Toronto Hydro seems to have been moving at a snail’s pace. Vaughan, a northern suburb with a population of 238,000, had 37,000 homes out yesterday and was down to 2,000 this morning with full restoration expected today. In contrast, Toronto, with a population of 2.5 million, still has 215,000 homes out. They claim to have had 300,000 out. It’s a big job.

      • Bob Koss
        Posted Dec 23, 2013 at 4:08 PM | Permalink

        Might consider a little anti-freeze where there is no water running through the traps and toilets. Hope you don’t have hot water baseboard heating.

      • Jeff Norman
        Posted Dec 23, 2013 at 8:34 PM | Permalink

        No power at our house either. We are hunkering down with a fire but the temperature is dropping. All around us houses are lighting up but our street is dark.

      • Posted Dec 23, 2013 at 10:25 PM | Permalink

        Reality has a way of reminding us how much we really know about the forces that control Earth’s climate. Warming may be on the way. A friend in North Dakota said it was -31 F last night but expected to warm up to + 32 F tomorrow.

      • Johnh
        Posted Dec 24, 2013 at 10:57 AM | Permalink

        You need to check where the waste water exits the house, we had a really cold spell in 2011 and the water froze in the drain pipe before it reached the safety of underground, had to wait until the thaw before it unfroze, even boiling water down the sink had no effect.

        • TAG
          Posted Dec 24, 2013 at 6:47 PM | Permalink

          From bitter experience – To unclog a frozen drain, take a hose connected to a hot water outlet. Advance it to the blockage and move forward as the ice melts.

      • Steve McIntyre
        Posted Dec 24, 2013 at 5:56 PM | Permalink

        Our power came back on this afternoon about 60 hours after the outage started. We were in the last one-third to be restored and I had resigned myself to no power until the weekend. Making matters worse, it was turning very cold – minus 12 deg C in the afternoon and going to be a bitterly cold night. The effects of CAGW are omnipresent and sometimes mysterious. It was also sunny today, so the city was very picturesque in treed areas looking south into the sun.

        In an effort to bring some heat into the house, I tried lighting a fire in a fireplace that we don’t use (probably not for ten years). I had heard that a load of firewood was arriving at Home Hardware at 9 am, so I headed up to buy firewood. We lit the fire which threw off some heat, but the smoke backed up into the house and set off the carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors. I had gone off to get some gas, so my wife ended up removing the logs from the fireplace outside before things got worse. It was a botched effort, to say the least.

        In any event, the worry of frozen pipes and frozen radiators has abated.

        • Posted Dec 25, 2013 at 10:38 AM | Permalink

          The effects of CAGW are omnipresent and sometimes mysterious.

          And laughter is good medicine, even on Christmas afternoon. Thanks Steve.

        • PJB
          Posted Dec 25, 2013 at 9:27 PM | Permalink

          AS long as your chimney is not blocked and the flue damper can be easily placed in the “open” (vertical) position, the cause of smoke in the house is …. wait for it …. because the log grate is not placed appropriately! Finding the correct orientation and position (more or less to the front of the firebox) will allow proper hot air rise and no smoke in the house :)

          I was in suburban Montreal for the storm of ’98 and had no power for 6 days. It was no fun but an experience to rival my trip to the Saguenay during the flooding there…..do you think it’s me? lol

        • bernie1815
          Posted Dec 26, 2013 at 12:03 AM | Permalink

          We have an old house (1740) with 7 working fireplaces. When we lose power I light fires in 3 of the 7 to keep the whole house above freezing. While they are a significant source of heat loss much of the winter, they are an essential back-up and thus worth the cost. We burnt through so much wood the last couple of weeks because of parties, etc., I will have to spend tomorrow cutting and stacking additional wood.

          Merry Christmas Steve and many thanks for all the insights.

        • Posted Dec 26, 2013 at 5:53 PM | Permalink

          Glad to hear that you are warm and enjoying the holiday cheer.

          Perhaps take up a collection for installing a backup generator? We need you warm and online!

  29. DGH
    Posted Dec 23, 2013 at 9:29 AM | Permalink

    “Although no single weather event can be attributed to climate change…”

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/technology/science/the-science-of-ice-storms-why-the-freeze-was-so-fierce/article16085930/

    • Matt Skaggs
      Posted Dec 23, 2013 at 9:56 AM | Permalink

      Sounds like “rolling loaded dice” to me. We have a winner!

  30. stevefitzpatrick
    Posted Dec 23, 2013 at 9:58 AM | Permalink

    Good luck with getting power back. I had a terrible experience in Pennsylvania 20 years back with an ice storm followed by snow, cold and wind. After struggling to keep pipes from freezing for 3 days, the power finally came back on. My next investment was a backup generator. I knew some people who were on vacation in the Caribbean, and they returned to a basement which had been converted in their absence to a swimming pool…. the damage to their house was enormous.

    • pottereaton
      Posted Dec 26, 2013 at 11:18 AM | Permalink

      Where I live in North County San Diego a back up generator is de rigeur. We live at the margins of the power grid. We lose power several times a year, often for a day and in the past 15 years, power has been out for a nearly a week on two occasions. We lose power because of wildland fires, pacific winter storms, high demand when it’s very hot, and often for repair work and upgrades. Last year a woman knocked down a power pole with her car, started a fire and we were without power for most of the day. The wild land fires in 00, 07 and caused the longest periods of power loss. Because we are at the end of the line (I live 400 yards from the Riverside County line which doesn’t use San Diego Gas and Electric) every disruption between us an the main station affects us.

      I bought a generator and had a receptacle attached to the back of the electrical panel inside my garage. I just turn off most of the appliances in the house, start it up, plug it in and flip the switch. Works like a charm, although my generator is not powerful enough to run my air conditioner. Some people who live around here have big automatic generators that run on propane. They hardly notice it when the power goes out.

  31. Timothy Sorenson
    Posted Dec 23, 2013 at 11:55 AM | Permalink

    We had “Treemaggedon” 4.11.13 this year. Sat on my steps for hours listening to tree branches break and fall. It was eiry to here the crack boom! for hours on end! But days of repairs afterwards.

  32. MarkB
    Posted Dec 23, 2013 at 12:15 PM | Permalink

    Keep the water faucets on drip to prevent freezing pipes. Ever stop and think about how our predecessors lived without central heating? After my oil furnace failed, I did. Better a higher water bill than a flooded basement.

  33. beng
    Posted Dec 23, 2013 at 12:21 PM | Permalink

    Feb 1994 was the penultimate ice-storm in southwest VA. Nearly 4″ of equivalent liquid was frozen on everything. Some were w/o power for a month. Areas of forest were literally flattened. During the storm, the sound of cracking/uprooting trees was sickening.

    That said, the recovery in the forest was impressive. Gaps from fallen trees were filled by the surrounding trees in a few yrs on my lot.

  34. Beta Blocker
    Posted Dec 23, 2013 at 4:15 PM | Permalink

    After a near miss with a 12-hour power outage in -20 F weather, my parents had a plumber install a tap arrangement on their water inlet line that could be used in an emergency to drain the entire system.

    During the winter, an air compressor and enough plumbing-grade anti-freeze to fill the entire system was kept on hand just in case it was needed to flush the system completely and to prevent any residual water in the low spots from freezing.

    • AlmostCertainly
      Posted Dec 23, 2013 at 4:48 PM | Permalink

      Steve, now is the time to get ahold of a compressed air tank and use it to blow out your hot-water heating system after draining it, before it freezes.

      A small hot water tank is usable if you can’t get one called ‘air tank’. In a pinch, you could use a spare tire, with just more trips to the filling station. Hopefully you can find one with power to make compressed air. Yikes!

      Finding/fixing freeze-busted pipes in walls is a real bummer.

      The amount of electricity you need to run the boiler and circulation pump is not big, but probably no way to buy a DC-AC invertor now.
      Also, not fun or easy to try to rewire stuff in the dark.

      Amazingly thin, this veneer of ‘civilization’…

      Best wishes,
      AC

      • mrmethane
        Posted Dec 23, 2013 at 6:17 PM | Permalink

        Dunno about the rest of the country, but here in BC, a maker of Copper tubing, Lynx, sold crap that was installed in countless homes and other buildings. Tended to split along a seam that probably wasn’t supposed to be there and was too thin. Little bitta frost pushed it over the edge. Glad we were in a rented house at the time.

  35. RomanM
    Posted Dec 23, 2013 at 5:48 PM | Permalink

    I thought that I was lucky to escape the ice storm by visiting my son’s family in Southern California (across the continent from home) , but it has turned out not to be so great.

    I have learned from the power company web site that the power went out in our home six hours ago and we are not there to put on a fire in the wood stove to keep the pipes from freezing.

    Ouch!

  36. clipe
    Posted Dec 23, 2013 at 5:56 PM | Permalink

    Here in Brampton Ontario, the problem is, we have about 30,000 dead Ash trees covered in heavy ice which will not be melting any time soon.

    Snap crackle pop and the sound of breaking glass (ice) kept me up most of last night.

    Power was lost (after ice storm had passed)at 1805/22 and was restored 1508/23.

    I expect further problem areas until warmer weather returns or all the Ash trees collapse.

  37. AJ
    Posted Dec 23, 2013 at 7:57 PM | Permalink

    Not so bad here in my little corner of Nova Scotia. We’ve got the glazed trees, but only a couple of small birch trees were blocking a portion of the road on my morning commute. Haven’t lost power, but other areas haven’t been so lucky.

    I’d think that a wet place that is getting wetter and still experiencing freezing winters would have a higher likelihood of ice storms. I also imagine that there would be many decades before such a signal would become significant. So I predict the science to be inconclusive (i.e. accept null hypothesis of no increase).

    Toronto’s been in the news way too much lately for all the wrong reasons.

    Here’s to hoping you have a Merry Christmas and an even merrier New Year.

    Sincerely, AJ

  38. Posted Dec 23, 2013 at 9:53 PM | Permalink

    Happy Holidays!
    Merry Christmas!
    Happy New Year!

    And may they get your power restored before any damage actually occurs.

    Temperatures inside, near freezing are still somewhat safe as the hot water lines tend to either run up interior walls or along baseboards inside rooms.

    Any lines in exterior walls, especially drafty exterior walls are very much in trouble.

    Now is the time to hook up gas (Coleman) stoves and lanterns. A double burner camp stove like Coleman puts out about 10,000-12,000 BTU per burner. A Coleman lantern adds several more thousand BTU.

    While not enough to heat the house, they may be enough to take the edge off of frozen pipes worry. CO as in carbon monoxide can be part of the exhaust in both devices so sleeping nearby is not a good idea.

    We live in a rural area that all too often suffers power outages. Setting up the camp equipment inside does wonders for coffee in the morning with breakfast, but we turn to a wood stove for real heat when electricity is not delivered.

    There are small relatively cheap wood stoves that can be installed quickly by putting an exhaust vent out a window spacer arrangement. For a couple of hundred $$ these stoves can warm rooms up and perhaps keep most pipes from freezing.

    Otherwise, let faucets run a bit more than small drips and drain all still water like hot water heating systems.

  39. Posted Dec 23, 2013 at 9:56 PM | Permalink

    RomanM
    Perhaps neighbors, relatives or good friends can intercede on your behalf?

    • RomanM
      Posted Dec 23, 2013 at 10:43 PM | Permalink

      Funny, you should mention this.

      I spoke several hours ago to a neighbour who looks in on the house and feeds the birds and other wildlife. He offered to go and start a fire in the wood stove and stay the night looking after it.

      I’m gonna owe him big time for this. :)

  40. James Smyth
    Posted Dec 23, 2013 at 11:14 PM | Permalink

    I grew up in the Piedmont (central) area of North Carolina, and if we didn’t have power loss due to ice storms every year, it sure seemed like it. One of the last and biggest happened just a year or two before I moved out west in 2003. I vaguely remember something in the number of millions without power, and according to wikipedia, I am correct: North Carolina ice storm of 2002. I also recall (although this could be wrong) that the “environmentalists” had limited the amount of tree limb cutback that the power (road?) crews had been doing and that worsened the damage.

    My memory is that we generally actually got more ice storms than snow storms. Probably something about the climate made it more likely for the rain to freeze on the surface than turn to snow first.

  41. Bernie Hutchins
    Posted Dec 24, 2013 at 12:31 AM | Permalink

    I just checked the temperature of the “Cold” water coming in from the street at my house (Ithaca NY) and it’s 49 F. Most everyone reading this knows enough physics to recognize this as a continuing source of heat that can be exploited in a number of clever ways in addition to just letting a tap drip. Even simple buckets of “cold” water arrayed about can distribute heat (as well as offer monitoring). And there is always that immense heat of fusion in the buckets in reverse against freezing. A well-known trick from farm days.

  42. gallopingcamel
    Posted Dec 24, 2013 at 12:53 AM | Permalink

    Thirteen years ago my family lived in Hillsborough, North Carolina. In order to keep the well (4.5 kW start up load) and air conditioning running during interruptions to Duke Power’s electricity service we installed a 1,000 gallon propane tank and a gas powered generator.

    My family had vivid memories of hurricane Hugo and Fran with power outages that lasted five days or so. As luck would have it the hurricane land falls moved to Florida so one might think my precautions and investements were wasted.

    Not so! An ice storm struck that took out the electricity for seven days as well as the twisted pair telephones and the cell telephones. Those were minor annoyances compared to the lack of hot water, heating and cooking facilities.

    Our home turned into a community center serving the nine houses in our sub-division. While we could not help our neighbors heat their homes, we provided drinking water, showers, baths and cooking facilities, sometimes “around the clock”.

    It was a fantastic experience that showed how people work together under difficult circumstances. The local community is much more effective in providing disaster relief than the federal or state governments.

  43. gallopingcamel
    Posted Dec 24, 2013 at 1:21 AM | Permalink

    During the 2002 ice storm our propane powered electrical generator produced relatively poor qualtity electric power. The voltage and frequency stability was pathetic compared to what Duke Power provides under normal circumstances.

    Poor quality power was not a problem for our heating, cooking, washing machine, drier or dish washer. The TV sets were another matter. One of our TV sets gave a rock solid picture (thank you Panasonic) but the others were awful. Fortunately some of our neighbors had great TVs so we were able to run several around the house to make sure that everyone knew what was going on.

    What a great experience! What a shame that it takes an emergency to bring communities together.

  44. Speed
    Posted Dec 24, 2013 at 8:03 AM | Permalink

    Connectivity!

    Cable and modern telephone systems require local power to operate. Where I live, AT&T has battery backup inside the neighborhood boxes for short term power outages and adds portable generators (portable meaning trailers pulled behind trucks) for longer outages. The system works well in my experience.

    The local cable system (Time Warner) has no battery backup so when the power goes out so does the cable/internet/phone. For long term outages, the cable company installs portable generators at the base of utility poles to power the system as long as they keep gasoline in the generators — usually one fill-up every 24 hours.

    The above is useless if the wires are/were on poles and are now down but priceless where they are underground.

    The above is also useless if there is no power to your house. Except … basic telephone service supplied over copper wires works as long as you have a boring old fashioned phone that gets its power from the telephone wires. Banks and some other businesses often have one old fashioned basic phone line and one old fashioned basic phone (if they can remember where they keep it) for emergency use.

    The last long-term outage in our area meant unprecedented levels of business in stores, restaurants and coffee shops having power and WiFi. This might be a good time to make sure you have a phone charger that works off your car battery. Walmart sells inexpensive converters that can supply 110v AC to run small electronic devices as long as your car has gasoline.

    Widespread power outages mean that gas stations can’t pump gas. Plan accordingly. Grocery stores have backup generators to keep refrigerators and freezers running.

    Every time we have one of these I decide that I need to buy a backup generator. One that (along with necessary extension cords) could power the refrigerator, hot water heater (just enough to power the igniter and blower), and communications (internet, cable, computers, TVs etc.). Many neighbors have. I have not.

    • Speed
      Posted Dec 24, 2013 at 6:02 PM | Permalink

      Forgot one thing. If you have a sump pump and the power goes out during a rain event, the cost of a generator will be paid back many times over if it prevents a flooded basement.

  45. David L. Hagen
    Posted Dec 24, 2013 at 10:03 AM | Permalink

    Steve
    Blessed Christmas, a Happy New Year, and a productive 2014!
    Keep warm.
    Speaking of “extreme weather”, at least this ice storm does not sound as harmful as the winter of bad as the winter of 1695–97 in Finland – when a third of the population perished!

    Neumann, J.; Lindgrén, S. (1979). “Great Historical Events That Were Significantly Affected by the Weather: 4, The Great Famines in Finland and Estonia”. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 60 (7): pp775–787. doi:10.1175/1520-0477(1979)0602.0.CO;2. ISSN 1520-0477.

  46. Mike Singleton
    Posted Dec 24, 2013 at 1:58 PM | Permalink

    Steve,

    I truly hope that you do not end up with frozen water lines. Longer term watch out for what happens to your home insurance premiums.

    Please excuse the following rant but I have to get it off my chest and it demonstrates for me the insidious fiscal impact on our lives of the fairy tale reports produced by the IPCC.

    I live on an acreage in Alberta near Calgary and my home insurance premium spiked this year. A cover letter with the renewal notice stated that sewer back up claims had risen dramatically and that this was being caused by “Climate Change” and “Failing Infrastructure”, there was no attempt to apportion the blame. (See this news item from 2011, http://business.financialpost.com/2011/11/17/climate-change-blamed-for-spike-in-home-insurance-premiums/)

    I explored the basis for the TD statements of “Climate Change” and sourced it back to a third party report commissioned by the Insurance Bureau of Canada which in turn based its conclusions on the IPCC AR4 and other published information, some from the usual NGO suspects. It was a “fluff” document that appealed to a higher authority.

    In my opinion the risk of sewer back up risk in a civic environment, both probability and consequences, has increased primarily due to decades of misguided land development permitting and neglected infrastructure maintenance by all levels of government. The “Climate Change” meme is just a convenient excuse to hide behind for both governments and the insurance industry.

    The money wasted on Climate Change research, green energy initiatives and needless local government green bureaucracy would have been better applied to the maintenance and upgrading of civic infrastructure.

    The illusion of a Nanny State mitigating all of an individual’s risk exposure is impacting a brick wall of fiscal reality.

    (In my case the solution was simple, TD wanted $800 per year to insure against sewer back up and the coverage, after deductible, was limited to only $10,000 per occurrence. Since I’m on an acreage with private well and septic tank the risk management is within my control, I told them to stick the sewer back up coverage where the source of the problem arises. I had already mitigated the risk of sewer back up with duplicate septic tank level alarms, water sensors at all floor drains and, most importantly, a 17Kw natural gas fueled emergency generator with automatic switch gear.)

    • tomdesabla
      Posted Dec 25, 2013 at 9:48 PM | Permalink

      By the way, Mike, since you say you live on acreage, have you looked into the Power Pallets from AllPower Labs?

      They are 10,000 and 20,000 watt generator/gasifier systems that run on wood chips. Pricey at over 20k but when you can use your own wood as fuel, it would give you a quite a measure of independence.

  47. john robertson
    Posted Dec 24, 2013 at 6:47 PM | Permalink

    Glad to hear your power is back on.
    Merry Christmas.
    If one owns a generator or a 12v inverter(will use up your auto fuel) and a couple of extension cords, there is much you can do in a pinch.

  48. johanna
    Posted Dec 25, 2013 at 5:55 PM | Permalink

    Been away for a few days, just checked in. Oh, my! Looks like many Canadians have had their Christmases well and truly ruined.

    I checked out the Toronto Star photo gallery, and while most of the pics seemed to be just photographers taking the opportunity to play with the light effects of ice, there were a few that captured the real devastation and scale of this event. There is one of the side of a block of flats with frozen strings of ice going down several storeys along the balconies that is just extraordinary. And some of massive tree trunks snapped like matchsticks which are downright scary.

    Steve and family, glad to hear that you are safe and well, and back at home. Reading about this makes me very grateful to be living in a moderate climate, with nothing more to do today than watch the Boxing Day Test and the start of the Sydney-Hobart yacht race. I hope that you and your family manage to salvage the rest of the festive season for rest and relaxation, as it should be.

    Season’s greetings from a loyal reader who greatly admires your work and considers this blog an ongoing source of further education.

  49. Jeff Id
    Posted Dec 26, 2013 at 2:00 AM | Permalink

    We were hit by the same storm. We were without power for two days so we went to the folks. It put a dent in the Christmas planning but everything worked out with a bit of effort.

    When I was about 15, we had a huge overnight ice storm which put a layer of ice down on top of 6 inches of fresh snow that was so hard you couldn’t stomp your foot through it. The next day was cold and cloudless so every stick and twig sticking through the smooth snow surface looked like a chunk of clear glass. We used sticks to cut footholds into the local sled hill and took metal runner sleds to the top. The speed was incredible with shattering glass-like twigs flying over our heads as the fronts of the sleds cut through. I have never seen anything like it since but seeing the trees in that crystalline condition always reminds me of that day.

  50. johanna
    Posted Dec 26, 2013 at 10:31 AM | Permalink

    A question – will it kill any of the trees? Obviously they are used to being frozen in a typical winter, but does an event like this affect the viability of the trees over and above the usual risks (apart from the visible breakages)?

    • bernie1815
      Posted Dec 26, 2013 at 1:22 PM | Permalink

      Johanna:
      Interesting question as to whether such events leave a “signal” in the tree rings.

    • Gerald Machnee
      Posted Dec 26, 2013 at 4:03 PM | Permalink

      If the tees are native to the area and generally healthy, breakage does not affect them significantly. Other than appearance they will continue to grow.

    • Posted Dec 26, 2013 at 8:43 PM | Permalink

      No if what happened in England 1963 which was an extreme winter for us.

      In some parts of the country there was snow followed by freezing rain, the ice storm, this cold continued for about 6 weeks.

      The ice load did damage and yes high speed toboggans.

      Long term? Nothing I noticed.

      None of this compares at all with the monster conditions places like Canada but on the other this is relative, you are used to extremes.

      Tree rings? A recent paper which I’ve yet to write about, the back story is critical, unearths long term reality. It is episodic extremes which shape species, not gradual change. In this case it was a summer drought which reshaped old woodland, knocking back what could not take the conditions.
      Paper is spun to try and play this down. Reality was leaked by actual knowledge, interviews.

      It’s possible the prevalence of ice storms or infectious agents will shape the species mix. Nature is rarely simplistic.

      I’m also mindful of recent years where unusual conditions led to double seasons and perhaps those are double annual ring producing.

      • Posted Dec 27, 2013 at 1:20 PM | Permalink

        Tchannon:
        Be careful about reading too much into trees dying back during drought conditions. Much of that has to do with;
        Tree health,
        Depth and spread of roots,
        Presence of plants that quickly absorb water,
        Depth of the water table.

        Tree health; during one of our minor but quite regular drought periods I had a large magnificent oak die well within the woods behind my house. Oak is mostly firewood to me. I leave some trees standing where bad health caused their passing as their dropped limbs and cavities are already hosting wild critters. The huge oak looked prime and I began chainsawing it for firewood. It turned out that a significant part of the tree was host to carpenter ants and they had cored a major part of the tree. Carpenter ants running to the disturbance made cutting the tree entertaining, to others. A large number of second and third growth small trees also died back as the surface water dried up. Larger trees with deep roots or trees with tap roots that could reach deeper survived.

        Depth and spread of roots. I have a neighbor who lost a large portion of his little woods. What he missed was the fact that his trees were wetland trees and his property had been drained for building. When the dry period came all of the wetland trees died.
        Some trees end down central taproots, deep. Other trees run roots shallow and wide (e.g. many conifers). Trees used to drinking shallow are hard put when the top layer dries up. Trees that root in clay during wet years are also hard put to survive when drought comes. Clay absorbs many times it’s weight in water and is very reluctant to give it up.

        Presence of plants that quickly absorb water.
        Many folks have hears of the cottonwood trees in the American Midwest. During America’s period of expansion many folks so loved the shade of the cottonwood that they planted them where they built. Cotton woods are a very thirsty tree and many small streams where cottonwoods were planted dried up as the trees matured and spread seeds. Local wells went dry also as the shade cottonwoods reached deep down for their water needs. Across the Eastern States there are a number of invasive plants (flowers originally, now weeds) that quickly absorb surface water before larger slower plants get their needs.

        Depth of water table.
        We have a curse here called golf courses, suburbia and malls. Many of these places sink their own wells and then drain water tables to keep their grass green and lush. Plants and people suddenly go thirsty.

        Meanwhile, good luck with your paper, it sounds very interesting. I would like to know about possible double rings. I do know that there are trees I’ve cut down for firewood where the number of rings do not match from various sides of the tree.

        • Keith Sketchley
          Posted Dec 30, 2013 at 7:44 PM | Permalink

          Thanks ATHeoK.

          Cottonwoods are in the populus tree family, as is trembling aspen. (While substantially different in the west and north, to the southeast there is less difference.)

          They tend to be early in, early out, supplanted by other trees (on the wet coast often by Douglas Fir).

          They propagate by root underground more than by seeds. Like strawberry plant runners but underground. One grove near me appears to have grown from a single tree. I suppose if connecting roots were cut that would be a bunch of clones.

          I’m wary of repairing trees, seems to me the scar has to be very well sealed else rot will proceed.

          Beware of people topping trees, they tend to grow multiple trunks which are weak at the joint.

    • Speed
      Posted Dec 27, 2013 at 7:08 AM | Permalink

      Several good articles here …

      http://www.bing.com/search?q=ice+damage+trees+long+term&src=IE-TopResult&FORM=IE11TR&conversationid=

      1. Mechanical damage (broken limbs etc.) is survivable if less than 50% of the tree.
      2. Insects can attack damaged trees.
      3. Ice damage can kill already stressed trees.

      Ice storms damaged trees long before we were around to experience it. Trees survived. Or more exactly, forests survived the loss of vulnerable trees.

      In any case, the tree trimmers will be busy this winter and next spring as the ugly, dying and dead are removed. Keeping ornamentals trimmed before storms hit can prevent/reduce ice damage to trees and power lines. After our last “event” the city and utilities got busy trimming and urging residents to do the same.

  51. clipe
    Posted Dec 26, 2013 at 4:02 PM | Permalink

    Brampton Ash trees

    Spruce and the like coped.

  52. Jeff Norman
    Posted Dec 26, 2013 at 6:23 PM | Permalink

    We are still without power, but Toronto Hydro is now working in our neighborhood.

    I thought of a great cartoon for our local circumstance, a Toronto family dressed in winter garb huddled around a CFL trying to stay warm. Several levels of irony, especially with the move to ban incandescent light bulbs in Canada.

  53. Labrador
    Posted Dec 27, 2013 at 9:01 AM | Permalink

    We were out from 9:50 pm Saturday until early morning Thursday. It was barely one step above camping.

  54. Mike B.
    Posted Dec 27, 2013 at 2:25 PM | Permalink

    January 1967, Central Illinois ice storm. Birch trees bent completely over to the ground. No power for a week.

    Some pictures on p 14 of the report:

    http://www.isws.uiuc.edu/pubdoc/B/ISWSB-53.pdf

  55. johanna
    Posted Dec 27, 2013 at 8:30 PM | Permalink

    Thanks for the responses about trees. I asked because (i)I like trees (despite being a planet destroying, grandchildren and Great Barrier Reef killing sceptic); and (ii)it strikes me as interesting in view of the tree ring proxies.

  56. TomRude
    Posted Dec 28, 2013 at 11:21 AM | Permalink

    The Globe & Mail today managed to reprint some Canadian Press article quoting some Hydro report…

  57. Posted Jan 1, 2014 at 11:44 AM | Permalink

    I’m glad to hear that you are back in your house. Here to the east in New Brunswick (in the country) we went 90 minutes short of 7 days without power. I built our house and made sure that we had a wood stove as part of the plan. It didn’t heat nearly as well as the electric baseboards, but we never got really cold. However, I used up all our easily accessible wood in the process…..
    And our well is artesian, so even without the pump we always had a low flow to refill a toilet tank, etc. But some people are still without power on Jan 1, nine days later. The crews from NB, NS, PEI, QC, and ME have been working 12-14 hours a day, so deserve our full support. But one wonders at times about the planning. We are on a sideroad, only about 500 m from the branch. Power was restored to the main road Friday afternoon, but it wasn’t until the following Monday morning that was got our power restored.
    One of our weathermen gave a reasonable explanation that the water that hit the trees was supercooled because there was no nucleus to begin freezing on the way down. Once the water hit a branch, etc., it instantly turned to ice, which is why most ice is on the top of the branch (about a quarter inch thick here).
    Overnight it got very cold here and at 1030 was still at minus 22°C (about minus 8° F). It is supposed to remain cold for the next few days, probably a reflection of the change of arctic air flow from xxxx to meridional. The warmists, of course, will find some way to make this all the fault of our CO2 emissions…..

    During the power outage a number of warming centers were set up where people could go to take refuge, get water, etc. The J.D. Irving company (large in forestry-related businesses) distributed free firewood, water, kerosene, and plastic jerrycans to the centers to aid those without power. They deserve thanks.

    Ian M

    • RomanM
      Posted Jan 1, 2014 at 3:14 PM | Permalink

      We managed somewhat better than you did with the effects of the storm. Our power went out on that same Monday while we were off visiting our son and his family in sunny California. One of my neighbors kept a fire going in my wood stove for three and a half days until the power was restored around midnight on Thursday night. The only “damage” we found when we returned home on Saturday evening was a small freezer full of re-frozen food all of which had to be discarded. I finally cleared most of the ice (up to 2 inches thick in places) which had been deposited on a car which had been left at home (the one on the right in the picture) today.

      I also have the greatest respect for our NB power crews for the effort they put into repairing the storm damage as quickly as possible and to Irving for providing resources to those in need. As well, my neighbors tell me that our local volunteer firemen came around to see whether people needed help to cope with the aftermath of the storm and in some cases loaned out electric generators for use until power could be restored. It bespeaks of the great sense of community that can still be found in our province.

  58. Speed
    Posted Jan 2, 2014 at 12:49 PM | Permalink

    Toronto, southern Ontario shiver under extreme cold weather alert, wind chill warning as it could feel like -31
    Toronto is under its first extreme cold weather alert of 2014 coupled with a wind chill warning, with temperatures on Thursday dropping to -19 C and feeling like –26 C with the wind chill.
    [ … ]
    Elsewhere, Canadians are shivering away in Fredericton (-29), Winnipeg (-32), Thunder Bay (-38), and Eureka, Nunavut (-44) And Lac Benoit, Quebec is a bone-numbing –46 degrees, or –57 with the windchill.

    Quebec is so cold that Hydro-Québec is saying they’re expecting to reach peak hydro usage and are advising customers to try to limit appliance and hot water usage and reduce temperatures in their homes by one or two degrees.

    http://news.nationalpost.com/2014/01/02/toronto-southern-ontario-shiver-under-extreme-cold-weather-alert-wind-chill-warning-as-it-could-feel-like-31/

  59. johanna
    Posted Jan 5, 2014 at 12:11 AM | Permalink

    At some stage locals might want to post about why they choose to live in such a miserable climate.

    As a late-night TV watcher, I see an ancient (1965/66) Canadian series called Seaway, set in Toronto. True, it is in black and white, but what the viewer gets is endless onning and offing of overcoats, hats, scarves and gloves; endless grey skies; lots of fog and sleet and snow and rain. So, what’s to like?

    There must be something that we don’t know about! :)

    • Speed
      Posted Jan 5, 2014 at 8:37 AM | Permalink

      johanna wrote, “At some stage locals might want to post about why they choose to live in such a miserable climate.” The only people who find it miserable are the news people who have to find a new disaster every day.

      In my case, family. And it’s not miserable. Right now, it’s 32F, no wind, beautiful sunrise. Snow and cold forecast, but it’s winter and that’s what happens in winter. Humans are flexible and some of us like variability.

      I’ve noticed that people on the west coast can’t understand why Midwesterners subject themselves to the constant threat of devastating tornadoes (I’m dropping into headline newspeak here). I’d rather stay away from hurricanes and I’ve experienced and don’t care for the heat (dry or not) of Phoenix or Albuquerque.

      I spent a year in Florida once — flat and boring. Alaska, expensive. Hawaii, expensive and remote. California, bankrupt. If Seattle would make me an offer …

      And now, I’m going outside to walk the dog.

  60. Paul
    Posted Jan 15, 2014 at 10:12 AM | Permalink

    Steve, have you been getting these “ice quakes?” Would that be something new to you? Curious.

  61. Henry
    Posted Jan 15, 2014 at 4:47 PM | Permalink

    Metro (a British free newspaper) has just had an article “A polar vortex, flooding and 50-degree heat: World is hit by extreme weather” which ends with a quote by Doug Parker, professor of meteorology from the school of earth and environment at the University of Leeds:

    “He said severe weathere patterns will be more frequent in future because of climate change. ’Weather always has to be viewed this way: there is a random element to it, but changes in climatic conditions can tip the balance so that a certain kind of behaviour becomes more or less likely than before. It’s like having an unfair coin which doesn’t come up heads 50 per cent of the time any more.’”

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