Ice storms — also referred to as glaze storms — are common in valleys and foothills.
Ice accumulates when super-cold rain freezes on contact with surfaces, such as tree branches, that are below freezing point.
Throughout the U.S., ice storms occur most often during the months of December and January, usually during the coldest part of the day: sunrise.
Ice storms have the bizarre effect of entombing everything in the landscape with a glaze of ice so heavy that it can split trees in half and turn roads and pavements into lethal sheets of smooth, thick ice.
Branches or whole trees may break from the weight of ice. Fallen branches can block roadways, tear down power and telephone lines, and cause other serious and minor damage.
The weight of ice can easily snap power lines and break or bring down power/utility poles, leaving homes without power for anywhere from a day to a month.
According to most meteorologists, just one quarter of an inch of ice accumulation can add 500 pounds of weight per line span. Ice storms are capable of shutting down entire cities with damage.
Driving during an ice storm is extremely hazardous, because ice can cause vehicles to skid out of control, leading to devastating car crashes.
Pedestrians must be cautious as sidewalks become icy and it is easy to slip and fall. Stairways also become an extreme injury hazard once coated with ice.
One of the damaging and costly ice storms in recent history struck North America in January, 1998. Phone and power lines collapsed, electricity pylons buckled, and 4 million people were left without power. 25 people were killed by falling ice or fires set by collapsing electrical units. The total damage cost around $1 billion.
The major ice storm that struck the Northeastern U.S. in December, 2008 left 1.25 million homes and businesses without power. In what was described as the worst storm of the decade, a state of emergency was declared in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and parts of Maine.
Prepare yourself, your home, and your pets for a storm. GO