Native Plants, Habitat Restoration, and Other Science Snippets from Athens, Georgia

Sunday: 16 February 2014

The Great Ice Storm  -  @ 09:04:32

Before the earthquake on Valentine's Day Friday evening, we had the snow and ice storm on Wednesday, and Thursday morning.

The winter weather was supposed to have started on Tuesday, and indeed places even ten miles north had up to two inches of snow. For us, it was half an inch of rain, and we didn't quite hit freezing during the night. There was a large amount of variability, over small areas, in the form of precipitation in Round One.

For us,the real weather came in Round Two on Wednesday, when temperatures never went above freezing. There were dire warnings about power lines going down, fallen trees, and loss of power for days.

Most of the precipitation was in the form of ice pellets. We had some freezing mist, but the dreaded freezing rain did not hit us. Tree branches and power lines remained largely clear of ice, and were not weighted down. We never did lose power. I haven't noticed much in the way of newly fallen branches, much less whole trees.

Not so for a lot of folks in the Atlanta area, and south of us. The actual freezing rain that amounted to a real ice storm hit in those places, and there were a lot of power outages. I recall the number was somewhere between 300,000 and half a million. We just weren't particularly affected in the area roughly around Athens.

Early Thursday brought Round Three, with more dry ice pellets and a small amount of snow. We ended up at this point with 2.6 inches of a granular mix covering a layer of ice on the ground.

A little before noon, after the precipitation finally ended, I did a test drive up to the road to do a little practicing. We're at the end of the road, on a cul de sac with very little traffic, and indeed no one had yet driven on the road.

This has turned out to be a sort of standard photo. I've found versions of it at most of our snowfalls in the last few years.

I'm happy to report that the Honda CR-V does a great job on whatever mix it was on our long driveway. I didn't venture out to test the rest of our road. On Thursday, late afternoon, we had reports from a fellow firefighter that Wolfskin Road still had patches of ice, and meltwater flowing across it. Our access road that you saw in the first photo above quickly dips steeply downward, angles sharply, and then even more steeply upward. It's always been our main impediment to getting out, since it gets less sun and thaws a lot less quickly than most places.

Neighbors began appearing before I was really able to exit the driveway. I should mention that that 2.6" of ice pellets gave about 1.6" liquid. With the usual snow to liquid ratios, it would have translated to about a foot of snow had it actually been snow.

It seemed better to minimize the disturbance, for the skiers and sledders. After they departed into the background, I did sneak one pass around the cul de sac before returning home back down the driveway.

There were the school and other closures that made things easier and safer for everyone. University of Georgia took its cue from the primary and secondary schools and closed for Tuesday, a good call given how variable conditions were at that time. They quickly announced Wednesday would be closed, and then so would Thursday.

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