Some quick notes on the recent ice storm, that for us on the Oregon coast descended on Saturday, January 13. A fine icy mist encrusted everything — houses were entombed in ice, including doors, roofs and siding, a very peculiar sensation for inhabitants! Daytime temps after the event on the 13th began warming up over freezing, but nighttime temps stayed below freezing, keeping the icy status quo outside and all of us off the streets, whether by foot or car. Warming daytime temps caused ice to crash down off trees, buildings and utility wires during the day, but freezing night temps kept the roads and sidewalks unsafe for travel. Once the daytime thaw started, watching ice bombs crash down became a macabre form of entertainment (see video below). The clatter and crash of ice was a hopeful if also slightly scary sound.
I think it was on Monday, the 15th, that I took a hammer to the walkways around our house in the backyard, breaking up slabs 1/2 inch to an inch thick and throwing it on the gravel areas, a cathartic and satisfying activity! Even though nighttime temps didn’t rise above freezing until Wednesday with return of rain, with the icy paths bludgeoned we were able to walk to the garage for supplies, make sure the generator was working if needed (it wasn’t), and just generally feel in charge again. On Monday, with dry patches cropping up on still icy pavement, I slipped heavy socks over my rain boots, and we gingerly made our way outside to the school across the street to give Billie a short outing, which we continued every afternoon until the rain brought a full thaw on Wednesday. (This idea of slipping socks over shoes to improve traction kept popping up on social media, and I can definitely say that it improves chances of not falling.) Once outdoors, Billie initially seemed confused which inclined her to stand still on the icy ground — not a good idea! — but eventually got the idea to keep moving and enjoy the fresh air. In the video you can see how close the school is to our house; nevertheless, it felt like a drama-packed expedition to arrive there safely, picking our way very very carefully.
There was never any snow, though it was predicted for the weekend of the ice storm. The local utility worked nonstop for two days to restore power outages mostly caused by icy wires, though downed trees were a huge problem in Manzanita, where I volunteer at the Wonder Garden. The heroic utility/People’s Utility District announced a well-earned short sleep break Monday evening. We never lost power at home, but there are still sporadic power outages cropping up, with an outage announced this morning in the west end of our town. Overall, the coast had an easier time with this arctic blast than Portland, which has experienced serial ice storms and more days and nights under freezing temps, thus slower to thaw. Damage in my admittedly young garden here looks minimal, but it’s way too soon to tell. The only real obvious casualty is the gorgeous Hebe parviflora angustifolia, which probably just took a hit to its good looks and may recover, albeit at a much smaller size. Tentative reports place the cause of this dangerous and rare weather event on warming temps weakening the polar vortex plus effects from El Nino — whatever the cause, it’s another one for the history books!