ICE STORM '98

It has been called "The Worst Storm of the Century," and Judy and I won't argue with that definition! We have never seen anything like it in all our travels and hopefully won't see its kind again. I'm sure you have all seen the scenes on TV, but I can guarantee that the effects are even more horrendous in real life. Even though here in the Ottawa Valley we are used to getting freezing rain on occasion in winter, we were completely caught off guard with this storm! The big problem was duration; it just kept coming down until everything was coated with clear ice from 70 to 90 mm thick. Trees, bushes, structures, and of course the hydro lines all suffered under the extreme weight of ice. The loss of electrical power on such a massive scale made us all fully appreciate how much we have become dependant on this utility.

Judy and I were very lucky as the power was off for only a few minutes on several occasions! This happened about 11:30 PM one evening and actually was quite comical in retrospect. Judy was asleep, and I had just bedded down when the clock-radio came on. It has a fail-safe circuit which turns the radio on when power is restored if there has been a power outage. So, I got up, pulled the plug out, and went back to bed. I was just dozing off when the TV in our room came on (I think a power surge caused this.) Up I got, pulled the TV plug and back to bed. Again I was just entering dream land when I thought I heard voices in the kitchen. I sprang out of bed (as good as I can at my age that is), and cautiously padded my way down stairs. This time it was the kitchen radio that had mysteriously activated itself. So out came the plug as was becoming the norm by this time.

But, I was now wide awake! I opened the front door, and then became fully aware that this wasn't the usual run-of-the-mill Ottawa storm. You could hear the freezing rain splattering onto already glazed surfaces. The lights were reflected and refracted giving the scene a fairy-land appearance. I now knew we were in for it ... and the rest you know! By the way our "kids" had the same, brief power outages so all the Stephansons were indeed extremely fortunate.

On the Saturday after the freezing rain stopped, and the sun came out, we went for a walk (skate?) around the neighborhood. It was almost surreal - beautiful destruction! As we walked through the Fallingbrook forest you could hear and see branches and ice chunks falling. I got hit in the nose by an ice chunk, and discovered gravity! No, that was of course Newton. It made us finally heed the warnings to stay inside, so we quickly headed home. Just to make things worse for all the workers and volunteers, the weather then turned bitterly cold with high winds and snow. I took some photographs and have posted them below.

 

 




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