ice storm aftermath

I moved most pots into the garden shed but a few with tulip bulbs took their chances outside

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.

I didn’t capture any dramatic icy images of plants because I couldn’t safely step into the garden…

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!

This entry was posted in climate, Occasional Daily Weather Report, Oregon garden. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to ice storm aftermath

  1. Elaine says:

    Wow, this must have been quite the unusual event for you. Have never seen roads that icy. Everything underground is probably fine however, it will be the evergreen plants and the woodies that might suffer some damage. Hope it’s minimal. Stay warm.

  2. Kris P says:

    Yikes! What an education in dealing with ice you got! I expect it’s a lot better to get a blanket of snowoin the plants before an icy storm like that takes over (not that I have any experience whatsoever with snow or ice storms). I can visualize you outside tackling the problem with a hammer 😉 I hope circumstances continue to improve and you can get back to a semblance of normality soon.

  3. Wow, that is a serious layer of ice. *I love the video of the crashing ice falling!

    The socks over shoes is a good trick, I hadn’t heard of that. My friend in Troutdale showed me her “shoe chains” that she says are wonderful in ice.

    Glad you are saying good-bye to it all.

  4. Denise says:

    @Elaine, it was an awe-inducing event for these zone 10ers, with no idea of the variety of cold stuff that can fall from the sky — graupel, hail, snow, slush, icy mist.
    @Kris, the forecast looks normal thru January — hope that prediction holds up!
    @Tracy, conditions were indeed serious for a few days but it seems to be over…for now. Hope you get some of that rain that’s predicted. My Long Beach garden could really use a drink about now…

  5. I appreciate reading your report as I wondered how things were over there. We never lost power either (lots of flickers of the lights which had us holding our breath), so for that I feel extremely lucky. From what I’m reading this was the worst weather nightmare here in Portland since 1990 (I was in Seattle then and living in an apartment) so it will definitely be a new experience to see how the garden’s residents experienced it.

  6. Gerhard Bock says:

    “I took a hammer to the walkways around our house in the backyard, breaking up slabs 1/2 inch to an inch thick.” Wow, that’s insane! That sounds like a horror movie! At least it sounds like you escaped relatively unscathed.

  7. hb says:

    Wow, did not realize the coast got the ice storm too. Not so bad for you, thankfully. When the power goes out it can get much worse. My sister has spiky plastic things she clamps onto her boots to walk on ice. People are better prepared when it happens every year.

    SoCal did get a good soak over the weekend, so your LB garden will be happy!

  8. Jerry says:

    Ha, we used a hammer too. Glad to hear that the icy weather wasn’t as bad for you out at the coast and that you didn’t lose power. I didn’t find it too bad being trapped inside at our place as long as we had power. Hebe parviflora angustifolia is a new one on me – pretty!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *