Weather report

pipe monster

On the weather maps, the monster storm was a sinuous creature poised to swallow half the east. We girded our loins (whatever that entails) and prepared for a power outage, but little more than an inch of pellet ice fell. But the storm hadn’t gone away; it was merely waiting until after dark to strike. Now there’s the eerie sound of water trying to flow in an ice-filled gutter and the scattered taps of rain or sleet striking the windows. The power goes out, comes on, goes out, and I sit in the darkness wondering where I put my flashlight.

I find the big Coleman battery lantern and discover it no longer works. I have a kerosene lantern but it’s too much trouble and bad smell; it’s almost bedtime anyway. The lights come back on. Better go get an armload of wood from the barn while I’m still dressed — there’s a very good chance I’ll wake to an ice-cold house.

When I turn on the outside light, the spicebush beside the front door is beautiful in its gleaming coat of frozen rain. The branches are just beginning to bow. I wonder what the woods will look like in the morning. The rain is loud and echoey as it strikes the crusted surface of the snowpack: a sound as far removed from the gentle hush of a summer shower as Metallica is from Andrés Segovia.

As I crunch up the driveway, it occurs to me that a day without power wouldn’t be so bad — it would force me to get out and take some pictures, shoot video, maybe even use my new audio recorder to capture the sound of crashing limbs. I think back to the last big ice storm, in January of 2005, and remember that it was my blogging about it at Via Negativa that prompted my cousin Matt to send me his old digital camera, my first, so that the next time I’d be able to take pictures.

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave’s writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).

13 Comments


  1. … and the rest, as they say, is history.

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  2. I echo Marvin. Stay warm. Enjoy the beauty but look after yourself and wrap up well. We’ve done the snow schtick here… exhaustively… and I’m hoping it’s over for us until next Winter. But of course, the weather has been nothing if not surprising this year, and so there’s no guarantee that we’ll slip easily into Spring. The buds are already looking very promising, with daffodils spearing the edges of the drive. I long for a day when I don’t have to swaddle myself like a Sherpa before stepping outside!

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  3. I enjoyed, and shivered, reading your old post about the ice storm of 2005. I hope this one isn’t as bad, do take care and keep warm, all of you on that mountain! I read earlier about the extensive storms across the US, even in Canada, quite mind boggling!

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  4. May the crashing limbs be only the trees’. Hope all’s well.

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  5. Here on the eastern side of the state, I wakened to the sound of icy snow-masses sliding off the roof and the insistent pounding of a woodpecker (we have cedar siding). The birches are bent like bows, and even the larch looks like a question mark. The bare trees are shaggy with ice. Yes, I worry about those poplars, cherries, and walnuts…weak-wooded critters…and our power lines (so far holding steady, but we don’t have a great track record for power service here).
    The hens are glued by ice into their coop. I’m going to have to do some emergency rescue later today so they can get more food and water. An excuse to get outside into the –er– brisk, fresh air.
    No morning update from you, Dave, so I’m thinking you lost power…take care.

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  6. Then the bowl of silence.

    Hope you got enough wood in, and enjoy the day of natural distractions.

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  7. Thanks for the comments and good wishes! Ann, interesting to hear how things are going over in the non-Kentucky portion of Pennsylvania. Not enough light for good photography yet; it’s foggy and dark. But the power’s still on, rain has stopped, and as I sat out drinking my coffee between 8:15 and 8:45, I watched the thermometer’s big red arrow i n c h i n g up to 32F. I’d knock wood, but the gesture would seem superfluous: Plummer’s Hollow echoes with the sound of crashing branches. Not much noise from I-99, though! Even the trains seem to have stopped.

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  8. Aaaaaand we have meltage! The trees are breaking their shackles and springing back toward the sky! Doesn’t like like much real damage was done.

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    1. Yes, meltage, which is a mixed blessing, water being one of the few liquids that weighs more than it does in its solid state. Hence, wetter ice on trees & wires causes worse breakage before the melt-off. Booming all around, almost sounds like gunshots. Cherry tree just landed on the back tractor path…

      Glad you have power! I hope we keep ours…

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      1. Sounds like you have it worse than us. I don’t think we lost too many whole trees this time. The ice is 3/4ths gone now, just in time for another cold front.

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  9. cedar creek lake,mabank texas has 5-6 inch of snow ice under the snow
    please drive slow,we want everyone to be safe. its nice to look at but stay in if you can.

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