Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Snowtorious B.I.G., Part One

Ice forming on the persimmon trees.
 Well, they'd been predicting this storm for days. Freezing rain and sleet followed by snow and blizzard conditions. And all of that followed by days of cold. This storm affected 100 million people in 33 states. This is just my story.

Day 1: The paper arrived!

The first wave of this storm was actually a clipper system sliding down from Minnesota. It brought freezing rain to East Central Illinois on Monday afternoon. First about a quarter inch of rain fell followed by about the same amount of ice. This was our first ice storm living in the country. And Monday afternoon, it was beautiful. The ice coated everything, all the trees, the ground, the dried weeds, the mailbox, the trash cans, everything. It dripped off the roof and filled the gutters. It's sound could be heard inside, little droplets of rain and ice hitting the roof. But outside is where you could really hear the true sound of the storm: the trees tinkling in the light coating of ice as the wind moved past them. It was a beautiful sound. I could not imagine, though, what another inch of ice would be like. Already it was difficult to walk outside, and the dogs slid around a bit. I put down salt, though, on the porch, and hoped for the best.
Ice on the bird feeder
These branches had already fallen from a previous storm.
Ice on the cottonwood
How long will these stay up?
The pictures here were taken Monday afternoon, after the first round of ice fell. I was working on this blog post Tuesday morning when our power went out. Monday night, the power flickered a few times. Snapping off, and then flickering on and off a number of times. Rich said that his dad always told him the more times the lights flicker on and off, the longer it'll take to repair, as each of those flickers is the electricity going to another station. We held our breath, and were relieved when the power stayed on. But Tuesday afternoon, it went out for four hours. Rich had bought food and water Monday, so we were prepared. When the power went out, I filled more water bottles with water along with a three-gallon jug that wine had been in. We brought a mattress into the dining room, along with lots of blankets, and things to do, and water for the dogs. Rich sealed off some of the rooms with plastic sheeting, and we turned on our gas log fireplace, shutting the doors to keep the heat in. And we prepared to hang out in the dining room for the duration. I spent the time going through seed catalogs, narrowing down the varieties of plants I want to grow this season. Rich did some work while his computer still worked, and it was a lovely afternoon. The dogs were nervous at first, especially with all the sudden movement and gathering of items... But they calmed down when they realized we were all going to be together. Four hours later, the power came back on. Yes! neither of us had showered, so we each did that, and Rich made a fantastic dinner (marinated and grilled pork steak, stir fry vegetables, fried rice) and we caught up on some TV we'd recorded. We listened to some music, and checked in with the weather, seeing this massive storm heading our way. One of Champaign's TV stations had a viewer poll going to see what they thought we should name this storm. One of the options was Snowtorious B.I.G., which was my favorite. They were still predicting the sleet to turn to snow, and for about 4-8 inches to fall Tuesday night and throughout the day Wednesday. Tuesday it didn't rain much. Most of what fell was sleet, about 4 inches of it throughout the day, and we were glad of that. But everything was about to change... Stay tuned for Part Two.

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