Ice Storm 12-9-07 (Updated 12-16-07)

9 12 2007

About 3:00 a.m. Rain is pouring down and freezing as it makes contact with exposed surfaces. My biggest fear right now is a power outage. The freezing rain is supposed to continue off and on from now through Monday night. That’s a lot of ice accumulation. Tree limbs break, power lines snap. No power means no heat, and the temps are in the upper twenties at the moment. We don’t really have any place to go in that event; the only relations that we might be able to shack up with live in the same area, so that if we lose power it is likely they would too. If it gets really bad I suppose some public shelters might be set up, but what a hassle that would be. And the idea of driving on a solid sheet of ice to get there makes my skin crawl. I’ll make further updates as the situation progresses…and assuming we don’t lose power. Keep your fingers crossed…

6:00 a.m. So far so good. Of course, we are only in the opening hours of this weather event. Temps are around 27F at the moment, and the forecast is for temps to rise to 30F. Went out back to get a couple of bags of ice melt (left over from a couple years ago) and put it down on the front porch and sidewalk. I have a major city street just east of my place, and I noticed that the cars have slowed significantly since the first time I stepped outside at 3:00 a.m. I should have some pretty awesome pics to share after daybreak. The best thing that could happen at this point would be for the precipitation to change over to sleet or snow, but I’m not hearing anything like that on any of the various news outlets that I am monitoring. The current wave of precipitation is supposed to dwindle throughout the day today, only to surge up again when the next band comes through sometime later tonight. At this rate, I would say work and school are going to be non-starters for tomorrow.

7:45 a.m. Things are deteriorating rapidly. As an overview, the forecast is extending through the first part of next week. We could be dealing with this crap through Wednesday. Power stays on, no problem. Well, there is the problem of not being able to get to work, but in the larger scheme of things that is a rather minor problem. Of course, if we lose power (and the odds of that are increasing by the minute) then the situation becomes grim in a hurry. The temps are hovering in the mid 20’sF, and wind chills are in the single digits. The weather guessers on t.v. are beginning to use phrases like “significant weather event” and “worst case scenario.” Not very encouraging. I went out and took a short tour of the area…very short, the wind chill is murder. Weird weather. It is pouring sleet in my neighborhood. It makes an eerie sound when it hits the frozen trees and grass, sort of a crackling noise, like bacon frying. To the north, I could hear thunder rumbling, which lends a surreal aspect to the situation. The wind is blowing fairly steady at around 8 to 10 mph, and you can hear the frozen branches of the trees rattling together. We live in a wooded area, and as the ice continues to accumulate we will soon start to hear the crack of branches breaking under the weight. This latest pic pretty much tells the tale. Ice. Everywhere. Accumulating. And no end in sight through the next 48 hours.

9:15 a.m. Another wave moving through. Starts out as freezing rain, then changes to sleet–which is good. After the storm systems pass, it switches to a light but steady freezing mist/drizzle–which is bad. 4085 people without power so far, statewide. Around 1000 people in the metro area. Not so bad, all things considered (unless, of course, you are one of the folks without). I remember the big ice storm of 2002, some of the folks in more rural areas were without power for over 60 days after the storm blew through. Nasty. I have had to assess the situation and start considering options, should the power go out. So far I’ve come up with nothing better than drive up to the Wal-Mart about three miles north and hang out there until we can come up with something better. I suppose we would try to stay here as long as possible. On the plus side, I have a lot of emergency supplies laid in. If there was some way to stay warm we could shelter in place for awhile. On the down side…if the power goes, we have no way to communicate out. The cordless has to have electricity, of course, and unfortunately our cell phones do not have any time left on them. We use the kind of cell phones that you have to buy time for, and as luck would have it, both of our phones are zero balanced. I seem to remember hearing once that you can still call 9-1-1 with the phone, even if it has no air-time, but I’m not counting on it. Hope I don’t have to find out.

11:36 a.m. Well, except for a few remaining bands of light sleet/freezing drizzle throughout the rest of today and tonight, I think that round one of this ice storm is over. Still have power, but we’re up to about 10,000 statewide who are not so lucky. The bad news is that we are supposed to get another 1/2 to 3/4 inch of ice, probably starting sometime Monday and lasting through Tuesday morning. I can tell you right now that I will be the manager’s least favorite employee where I work. I refuse to drive on icy roads. But we still have power. We’re still toasty warm. I guess I can dial the worry meter back a couple of notches and enjoy the rest of the day. My next update will be at 3:00 a.m. tomorrow morning. Check in then to see how this story develops!

3:55 a.m./12-10-07–Well, not much changed. Temp is around 30F–which is warmer than I thought it was going to get, but still below freezing–and light freezing rain is still falling. I haven’t ventured outside yet, but a quick glance out into the back yard shows a tree with some really large branches bowed nearly to the ground. I’ll snap some pics when there is more light. I’ll know more after 5:00 a.m., when the local news programs begin. Right now I’m just listening to the NWS broadcasts. They are still calling for further ice accumulations of up to an inch, which is not good news. On the plus side, it looks as if I will get at least one extra day off from work, as I absolutely refuse to drive on roads that are icy. The tricky part about today is that another storm system is supposed to move in early this afternoon, which could make an already bad situation even uglier. We’ll see what happens. More pics and updates to come, assuming I’m able. In the meantime, here’s the story on Breitbart: Ice Storm Coats Nation’s Middle; 5 Dead.

7:55 a.m./12-10-07–Well, things look a lot more grim in the morning light. These pictures pretty much tell the tale. At the moment, we seem to be in a little pocket of people who still have power. The stoplights at the intersection about 50 yards east of here is out. As I have said before, the power is the main issue. The last number I heard on the news was 122,000 in the OKC metro area without power, with just under 270,000 statewide. If the weather guessers can be believed, it is supposed to rise up to about 34F by 5:00 p.m. It doesn’t look as if it will get there soon enough for any significant melting, and there is more winter weather headed this way. So far, ten people have lost their lives in weather-related traffic accidents. When you consider that, it makes my worries about losing power seem pretty petty. We would be uncomfortable for awhile, but we would certainly survive it. Sort of puts things in perspective, I guess. Still, I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Compare this picture to the one posted just previous. It gives you a pretty good idea of the freezing precipitation that we received overnight, and this was supposedly “intermittent light freezing rain.” Apparently Oklahoma City was in a band of somewhat heavier weather. Listening to the news on t.v., I see where people are starting to have a lot of problems with ice caving in their roofs, snapping large branches on trees (some of which fall on houses, cars, and power lines). One fortunate thing is that there is no wind to speak of today, but of course that changes tomorrow. I think once the winds come up the power outages are going to skyrocket.

The following picture is why I am not optimistic about keeping the power on much longer. You can see the ice on the power lines, surrounded by ice-covered tree-limbs. I’m listening to an OG&E guy being interviewed on a news program as I write this, and he doesn’t sound encouraging. The worst part of the situation is that once your power does go out, you are looking at being down a couple days at best…perhaps longer. We don’t really have any place to go, so, I am left to try and figure out some way to keep my family warm in the event that the power goes out here. Honestly, I don’t have a good answer to that question. We have blankets, of course, and I suppose even a candle would raise the temperature of a small room a degree or two. Beyond that, we would have to try and find some sort of public shelter. Both cars are frozen solid, so there is an issue as to whether or not we could even get out. If not, then the situation becomes truly desperate. I would have to try and find some way to contact authorities and get transported.

All ugly stuff. Not at all the way you want to spend an extra day off of work, huh? But, here we are. Has to be dealt with. As I listen to the news folks I get the impression that this ice storm has turned out to be a lot more of a “significant weather event” than anyone dreamed yesterday at this time, when it was in it’s early stages. One thing that annoys me is the fact that the media has given it a name…ICE STORM 2007! Complete with a fancy graphic. I don’t know why that bothers me so much, but it does. It makes it seem like a controlled event…like a rock concert, or a presidential debate. Maybe that’s what it is if you are watching it from a distance. From where I’m sitting, it looks more like this last pic. Just a complete mess that looks as if it is going to get a lot worse before it gets any better. I’ll keep posting here as long as I am able. I doubt that anyone is really following this post with baited breath, hanging on the edge of their seat. It helps me organize my thoughts, I guess, and of course this will make great reading sometime next summer when I’m flipping burgers out on the grill and chugging some brewski’s. In the meantime, I think I’ll go scrape ice off the cars and see if I can start them and warm them up. Just in case. Maybe take in a few levels of Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation.

Why not.

11:30 A.M./12-10-07–Still have power. A minor miracle given that the rain continues to pour, and the temps hover just under freezing. Best news I’ve heard in a few hours is that the freezing line is moving north…if we can just get it to push north of OKC, things would begin to improve a bit. No guarantee that the power won’t still go out…and in fact, as I type these very words the lights are starting to flicker. Guess I better cut this short.

I put a chicken in the oven…optimistic of me, I suppose. If I can just have power for another hour and a half, we will eat hot food today. Here’s more from Breitbart. Wish me luck on the chicken…

NOTE: The following passages are taken from a handwritten journal that I kept during a power outage resulting from an ice storm that began Sunday, December 9, 2007.

12-11-07/4:50 am

Well, it has begun. I keep a fan running in my bedroom while I sleep–the sound blocks out other sounds that keep me awake–and I woke at about 2:30 am to the sound of utter silence. The power had finally gone out.
First things first. I stumbled through the darkness into the office to find the flashlight, then set about gathering candles. Once I had some light, I went in and took a quick shower–not knowing for certain if the hot water heater, which operates on gas, will continue to provide hot water. I advised my wife and son to do the same yesterday, so we’ve all had an opportunity to get clean before the bottom dropped out.
After a shower, I gathered other emergency supplies–radios, batteries, and so on. We are very fortunate in that we have a lot of AA batteries, and all of our emergency equipment runs on that type of power source.
With that accomplished, I looked around outside. I was afraid to wander around too much, not knowing if there might be downed power lines. I realized that I need to move my truck a few feet back in the drive way, as it was parked right under a tree, the limbs of which look about to come down. I was able to get it started and backed up, so I let it run for a few minutes to warm the motor a little. I started the van yesterday, and cleaned off all the ice, so at least at this time we have transportation.
Work. What to do about that? Prior to this disaster I had three of five paid personal days left. I can’t see me going in today–at least until I know what the situation is going to be here. I’m not even sure they have power where I work. There is no way to call and find out–I used the last fifty cents on the cell phone to report the power outage.
Assuming they don’t turn asshole and fire me, then I guess I’ll try and cash in on those days. Beyond that, I don’t know. Try to figure out what to do for shelter, and proceed from there.
Everything depends on how long the power is out. According to the news it can be anywhere from a few hours to ten days. I’d say we can last here a day, two at the most, then we are going to have to find someplace warm. For the immediate future, I need to:
1. Put food in something and put it outside, to keep it cold.
2. Gather emergency supplies and create an emergency “kit,” as well as gather things we might need to take to a shelter.
3. Clean out the van and have it ready to go, in case we have to go.
4. Siphon gas from truck to van???
5. Find out about selling the money order we bought for rent, if needed.
6. Unplug all computers and other stuff that might get damaged when power comes back on.
7. Make a fire pit outside?

9:00 am

Daylight. Walked around outside a little. Not good. It is snapped and fallen branches that have done us in. I saw at lest two sections of lines that were ripped down. Any way you look at it, it is going to take some time to clean that mess up and fix it. And there’s just no way to know when someone will even get to it.
I think the worst part of this–at least at this point–is the boredom. I’m luckier than Lucy and Bryan…I have my books and my writing. I will have to come up with some way to keep them occupied.
We (I) keep coming up against the idea of seeking shelter elsewhere. There are two options along those lines, both unpleasant. We could go over to her sister’s house. Pros: Bryan would be occupied, Lucy would be more or less occupied. Cons, I would be miserable, we have no way of knowing if they have power (and no way to find out). The second option would be to find public shelter. Pros, I would be more comfortable there than at Lucy’s sister’s, warmth, food (possibly). Cons, it would be just as boring there as it is here.
We can make it through today. It’s tonight that things begin to break down. And, unfortunately, I don’t think they will get our power on before tonight.
I think if we have to seek shelter I’ll go to the hospital. It’s about the same distance, and has as much or more facilities. Well, minus red cross coffee and soup.
Or Trinity Baptist Church down on the ugly end of NW23rd. Take your pic (sic). Maybe leave Lucy and Bryan at her sister’s, if they have power. I could probably get through at least one night on my own.
I just don’t know.

2:00 pm

Oddly enough, I just don’t feel like writing fiction right now. I suppose I’ll read, or play some Game Boy. I can’t concentrate…my mind is stuck on this situation. What I REALLY want to do is go start a fire in the outdoor grill and try to cook something.
Lucy and Bryan went over to her sister’s. They should be back in a few hours. I’m leaning toward spending the night here, at lest for one night. Have to discuss it with Lucy.
This is miserable. Can’t get past that. And I keep trying to tell myself that people lived without electricity for 99% of human history. But, they were geared for that. They had fireplaces, which would make all the difference. You gotta be able to stay warm. You gotta be able to cook food. We don’t have any of those facilities.
Bored. Just sitting here. Cold.

12-12-07/4:58 am

One night down. Alone. Lucy decided to stay over at her sister’s with Bryan. I understand that–there’s no point in making Bryan suffer–still, I was a little hurt and felt kind of abandoned.
I guess it got down to about 30F. I stayed warm enough. I kept my clothes on, wore my duster, and piled on a bunch of blankets. It wasn’t pleasant, but not unbearable either.
I guess I’ll try to go to work…although I’ve got bad weather news playing in my ear as I write. Guess I better go get my shower (if the water’s hot) and be prepared in either event.

4:09 pm

Still no power. I can’t begin to tell you how disappointed I was when I got home and the power was still off. I had no real reason to think that it would be turned on, but of course, I had hoped.
Absolutely no pity at work today. I got the old “well, other people made it to work” speil (sic). It just made me hate people. They have nice warm homes to go to at the end of the day, a hot meal, maybe a little “tube-time” and some web surfing before heading off to bed.

5:16 pm

Interruption there. Lucy came by and took me to Taco Bell. So, got to be warm for a few minutes and eat hot food. Yay.
Anyway, too tired and too cold to bitch any more. I’m going to force myself to do some writing…play some Game Boy…then go to bed and read. Getting a lot of sleep; there’s nothing else to do.
Wife and son at her sister’s. They’re okay. Someone is bound to ask why I am not with them, instead of freezing my ass off here. I can’t stand her family, they can’t stand me. The problem is that I would go to a public shelter before I would stay at her sister’s–and she flately (sic) won’t go to a public shelter.
So, here I am.
Maybe power will come on tomorrow.

12-13-07/3:25 pm

It just gets worse and worse. Of course, power is still out. Then, when I got home from work, there was a note on the door form the city saying they are going to shut off the water if we don’t pay our past due bill + late fee by 9:00 am tomorrow.
Kick a mother fucker when her’s down. No water makes this place unlivable. I got my check a day early–but if the water bill is too high then we don’t eat for a week.
I don’t know how much more I can take. Something has to break my way or I am going to give up. I’m starting not to care. I’m tired of being cold–and according to the weather, we have another winter storm headed our way sometime Friday. Temperature was supposed to get up to 40F today…it’s 33F. Down in the 20’s again tonight.
We have been without power for over two days. No idea when it will come back. I saw some OGE trucks milling around the neighborhood, driving right past that fucking tree limb still laying across the lines.
Every business in 10 square miles around me has power.
I slept with the dog last night. For his benefit, not mine. A small dachshund doesn’t generate much in the way of body heat.
Today is the first day that I notice my fingers going numb as I sit here and write.
The news reports are crowing that power has been restored to over half of those initially without.
Yay for them. I’m starting to hate people who have electricity.

6:46 pm

you should not see your own breath in your house

12-14-07/3:23 pm

Coming home to no power again today was just heartbreaking. With another winter storm moving in, and temps forecast to drop into the low 20’s, I have been praying all day for the power to be on.
No such luck.
I’m almost at the end of my rope. in another 10 hours I will have been without electricity for 4 days. Four of the most miserable days of my life. No, not as bad as the last two months of my mother’s life, but just below that.
Over and over and over I keep asking myself ‘why?’ Why does it have to take so long? Why do I keep seeing OGE trucks all over the neighborhood, but still no power? Why is there power almost everywhere I go, in an eight mile radius, but nothing here? Why won’t the weather clear up–even for a day? Why can’t I catch one break lately? Why?
I’m so tired. Tired of being cold, tired of writing in this stupid journal, tired of living like an animal. i can feel myself slipping into a depression.
3:40 pm…I had just gone to the door to look outside. I turned on a light switch in the hall so if the power ever did come back on, I’d know…then I turned the heater off. 3 minutes later, the light in the hall came on.
Oh my.
Will it stay on? I’ve become gun shy.

4:11 pm

Still on. Got the heater on and warming the house now. Jesus be praised.
I’m writing if (sic) full electric light.
It’s weird, I’m scared to turn a bunch of stuff on…like I’m afraid I’ll break something and it will all go off again.
I can’t begin to tell you how low I was feeling just 20, 25 minutes ago. Near tears. And with the flip of a switch, everything changed.
Of course, there is always the possibility that it could go off again–they’ve warned as much–but at least I can get the house warmed up, and at least something is being done.
Oh, man. I can’t believe what I have been through in the last 86 hours. It will take some time to fully absorb everything that has happened.
I’ll have to come back and sum all of this up (assuming it’s over).

4:23 pm

My wife and son just got home. They have been staying at her sister’s.
As I watch them celebrate and run around turning on t.v.’s, video games, and the like…I just think back about 24 to 48 hours, when I was lighting birthday candles and measuring how much heat they put off…and how long they burned.
Thank you Lord.

5:09 pm

So I’ve turned the lights off here in the office, re-lit the candles, and turned on the boom-box that I wired up to two 6-volt batteries.
No, the power hasn’t gone back off…just wanted to make sure I remember where I was. Of course, it’s a lot warmer. I’m not going to shut the heat off.
For my wife and son, things are “back to normal.” But as I sit here (coat still on) I can’t help but feel changed. They had an uncomfortable–but warm and t.v. filled–time staying over at her sister’s. They can’t know (and I really wouldn’t want them to) what it was like here.

12-15-07/6:52 am

There was one more handwritten entry after that, written this morning after I got home from buying a few groceries, but it really is more of a recap, with a lot of philosophizing thrown in. Not inclined to retype it. For all intents and purposes, the situation ended with my last entry, last night. All I was trying to do was encapsulate the experience somehow, capture it and put some sort of finishing touch on everything. Funny, as miserable as I was, I was a little loathe to let the feeling go. I just didn’t (don’t) want to go back to normal, as if nothing had happened. Something did happen. I don’t want to let those feeling slip away without examining them. This experience has put a lot of things in perspective for me, about how bad things are, about how bad they can get, about what is important and what is not.

I should mention, according to the report that I just heard on the television, there are still over 100,000 people around the metro area that are without power. Those people are in the same situation that I was afraid I was going to be in when I began my journal entry at 3:23 pm yesterday…power still out and temperatures dropping. Where ever those people are–roughing it out in their cold homes, or holed up in some uncomfortable shelter–they are dealing with what I was facing. I pray that the power crews are able to get power restored to those people soon. It is a miserable, miserable situation, and not having heat is the worst part of it.
My heart, which was breaking a little over 12 hours ago, goes out to those people now.




3 responses

9 12 2007

I hate snow, but you have some gorgeous and tantalising pictues here… And I especially love the top one.

9 12 2007

Ugh, ice storms. We’re just getting the tip down here in the South. Stay safe and warm!

10 12 2007

Thanks for the comments. Still have power, but more bad stuff on the way. I hate ice storms! Weirdits, stay safe and warm yourself 🙂 Thanks for reading you guys.

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