Monday, December 10, 2007

The Ice Man Cometh - Damn Him!

From my perspective there's little that I can do. I guess I could fill up the gas tank and start driving south. A few hours drive, and I'd be safely below the freeze line, and would be inconvenienced only by the cold winter rain.

But here I make my stand in the village of Jerome, Illinois a suburb of Springfield, Illinois. I've spent the last hour carefully studying a variety of colorful animated weather maps available at

I first looked at the local radar map, and felt rather lucky. I didn't see anything to be alarmed about. I then zoomed out to the regional map, and felt my heart sink, but still I felt it wouldn't be that bad. I looked at the animation over, and over again looking for some hint of which direction the ice was really headed, and I timed how long it was taking for the evil ice clouds to pass an area the size of Sangamon County - the County I live in.

Looks like it will hit in two hours, but we'll only get maybe an hour's worth of ice, or so I initially estimated.

But then I had to zoom out further, and look at the national maps. I realized then that the coming ice storm was much larger than what I had guessed.

It looks like the majority of the nasty stuff is heading north of Sangamon County, but our County falls within the soon to be affected area. In fact I've seen enough ice storms dump their worst blows on their southern fringes to know that things could actually be worse for Springfield than for say Bloomington. Only time will tell.

It does look bad. The Santa Anna winds, or whatever they are called this time of year, seem to be bringing up streams of humidity from the Pacific by way of Mexico. All that vapor is moving with the jet stream directly for Central, and Northern Illinois, and other Midwestern states.

This storm has already wreaked havoc on states west of here, and now it is our time.

If this were summertime we'd be happy for the rain, but when it's freezing cold out, but not quite cold enough to produce snow, it makes for a dangerous ice storm.

Everyone would rather have snow than ice because ice is so darned dangerous. From the ever growing number of fools driving their SUVs at speeds way too fast directly into power poles, to tree limbs crashing down upon transformers and taking out power to whole subdivisions, we are looking at dangerous roads, and sidewalks, and hours in the cold and darkness.

Things I recall from the week I spent without power in March of 2006 in the aftermath of two F2 tornadoes which struck the Village of Jerome, and Springfield, Illinois:

  • The freezing cold seeping into our home.
  • The disconnection from the rest of the world - no land line phones, nor cable television, nor Internet.
  • The joy of canned food.
  • The mad scramble to find batteries, candles, extra blankets, battery powered alarm clocks, old battery powered AM radios with run down nine volt batteries.
  • The mist from a warm shower rapidly forming droplets in the cold air illuminated by a single beam of a flashlight pointed upward toward the ceiling.
  • The freezing cold air which greets you when you step outside the shower warmed bathroom into the cold dark house.
  • Kids asking repeatedly if school has been canceled.
  • Wanting to go to work to find a safe warm well lit place.
  • Listening to hours and hours of AM radio news covering the weather disaster.
  • The flickering of candles.
  • The slowly fading light from flashlights with dying batteries.
  • The thrill of buying a hot pizza, but having to find a way to pick it up.
  • A sudden overwhelming appreciation for linemen, and journeymen.
  • A feeling of joy when you find out the electricity it back on.
  • Elation over the return of cable television, and most important of all broadband Internet.

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