Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Georgia 2/12/14: Snow-mageddon and the Ice-pocalypse

Augusta, Georgia and the rest of the Southern US from TX to NC is experiencing one of the worst winter storms in its history. The last severe ice storm to hit Augusta was 9 years ago. 

Light fluffy snow is one thing, but when you have heavy sleet mixed with freezing rain, the heavy ice builds up on tree branches causing the branches to snap and fall suddenly to the ground.  Falling tree limbs can damage homes, cars, and take out power lines.

This winter storm started on 2/11/14 and really wasn't all that bad at first.  The past couple of days before the "polar vortex" arrived were warm and the initial sleet didn't stick to the roads much.  However, as the storm continued about 1-2 inches of sleet and wet snow accumulated the first night with only about a 1/4-inch of ice. There were a few downed limbs and trees and the power was out for only about 3-4 hours.  

However, the storm isn't done yet.  And now the power is out for the second time.  The wet slushy sleet is re-freezing and more freezing rain is falling.  As I listen quietly, all around me I can hear the sound of branches cracking and falling to the ground.  The sound is like gun fire going off. Breaking branches in my immediate neighborhood begin with a very loud and startling "crack" followed by a "thud" as the branch impacts the ground.  Trees further away make a brief echo-y "pop" sound.

Interspersed with the sound of "cracking" and "popping" branches is an occasional "buzz-buzzz" sound of high-voltage electrical wires arching and electrical transformers burning up.

With the power out, we are heating the home with our gas fireplace and using candles and headlamps for light.  I also have a car jumper battery pack that I'm using to keep the smart phones charged. Cellular-service and 4G data still works.  Also, the local HAM radio repeaters have been working great. 

I expect Augusta and the rest of the South to wake up to quite a mess in the morning.  Fortunately, the weather forcast calls for warmer temperatures and clear skies for the weekend and next week.

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