Ice Storm Brings In New Year

Rain begins to fall after temperatures drop to freezing or a degree lower. Each drop freezes onto whatever it hits. This is an ice storm.

Ice deceives us as we don’t really realize how dangerous it is. Ice coating branches adds weight and rigidity. A quarter inch of ice breaks small branches. A half inch can shatter a tree.

ice coating on a tree after an ice storm
A thin coating of ice turns trees into crystal sculptures after an Ozark ice storm. This coating was barely a quarter inch. Ice is heavy. A thick coating will break the branches.

A quarter inch of ice on the ground turns everything into a skating rink. Feet fly out from under you.

These things are used in “The Carduan Chronicles” as the ship accumulates ice creating drag and increasing weight and bringing the ship down. The slipperiness of ice shows up in several other adventures.

ice and snow on a twig
An ice storm is a rain storm when the temperatures are freezing or a degree below. The rain freezes onto whatever it hits. It forms frozen drops below the twigs.

The ice does look pretty. Trees and bushes look made of glass. A breath of wind makes the ice tinkle. The hills are covered with light gray trees. If the clouds break letting sunlight through, the gray turns to gleaming white.

It takes a lot of heat to melt ice. One of the investigations in “The City Water Project” looks at this. The air temperature can climb to a few degrees above freezing and the ice stays on the trees, fences and other objects, but melts on the road making walks safe.

fox sparrow on icy branch
Birds like this fox sparrow puff up to keep warmer. The air trapped under their feathers acts like insulation. This sparrow is watching for a chance to join the crowd at the bird feeder to get some calories to burn for body heat.

Another aspect of an ice storm is the quiet. It’s like the hush in a snowy landscape. Unless a breeze moves the branches, sound is swallowed up. All I heard walking out across the pastures was the creek rushing over its gravel bed.

Once the temperature stays up in the mid thirties for a few hours, the ice begins to fall. It becomes dangerous to stand under electric lines or trees as chunks slip off and fall. Being hit with a piece is being hit with a rock.

Ozark road after an ice storm
The clouds have thinned so the ice turns into white crystal on the trees lining an Ozark gravel road.

One advantage to this ice storm bringing in the new year, is being able to stay at home. Looking out the windows at the ice coated landscape lets me admire the beauty until the ice finally melts escorting the ice storm into the past.

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