Icepocalypse

After living in Anza for 23 years, I’m used to all kinds of weather. August monsoons, April snowstorms, June frosts, triple-digit-temperature heatwaves, hailstorms, earthquakes, the howling Santa Ana winds . . . I thought I’d pretty much seen it all.

This week, Texas showed me something new.

It started Thursday afternoon, a freezing rain that turned to ice when it came into contact with any surface. I didn’t think much of it, other than to be mildly amused as the first ripples of alarm spread across local news stations and weather channels. The kids’ school district announced that school would be closed Friday. How adorable, I thought. A little sleet and the Metroplex shuts down.

The next morning we awoke to a lovely winter scene. Trees and plants were glazed in a sparkling clearcoat of ice, and snow blanketed rooftops, lawns and streets. Festive!

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Except that it wasn’t snow, it was a white, granulated ice that turned the roads and sidewalks into skating rinks. The gray clouds didn’t clear on Friday, and the temperature only rose enough to create a thin, deadly layer of water atop the ice. Driving anywhere was out of the question.

The first stirrings of bemusement, the vague idea that I was dealing with something new, came to me Friday afternoon. For one thing, the road past the house was still a sheet of ice. Back in Anza, folks would have been out on the dirt roads with their tractors, making sure that everyone could get to a paved road. The paved roads themselves would have been passable by noon, without any plowing. At 4000ft elevation snow doesn’t last very long on black asphalt once the sun comes out, which it always does after a storm.

But the city doesn’t clear neighborhood roads here, and other than scattering sand and salt there wasn’t much they could do about that thick layer of white ice even on the main roads. Granted, there are several grocery stores within walking distance of our place, so not being able to drive out wasn’t a life-and-death issue like it can be in isolated places like Anza. I’ve heard that a lot of people in DFW were without power for hours or days after the storm, but ours stayed on, thank goodness. For us it was more of an inconvenience than a disaster. In retrospect I wish I had taken more photos, but I was too busy with not going outside and stuff. Brr.

On Saturday, that thin layer of melted water had refrozen to harder, slicker ice. The roads were worse than before. The heavy cloud cover remained. I had planned to run some errands with the kids on Saturday, but I cancelled everything and we stayed home. My car was still encased in ice anyway.

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One other thing about DFW roads: they are designed to prevent flooding. This area gets heavy rainfall, and flooding is a real problem in some areas. So the roads are not flat like SoCal roads, they are noticeably higher in the middle and lower along the sides to keep water running off into the storm drains instead of puddling. Trying to drive my little Saturn on those roads would have been like bowling an entire game of gutterballs.

By Sunday, bits of asphalt were peeking through the ice. I broke the Saturn out of its shell of ice, and the kids and I ventured out to return some library books and buy some groceries. We did not die. It really could have gone either way, though.

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The views from the Bedford Library looked like Christmas cards.

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Some frozen rozes at the Hurst Library:

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On Monday the schools were still closed. While most of the busier roads were fairly clear, a lot of smaller roads were still iced over. My computer sits next to a large window facing the backyard, and as I worked I could hear the leaves falling from the trees. They were still frozen solid, so each leaf fell with an audible “clunk.” I feel that leaves should not “clunk” when they fall. It was mildly unsettling.

Monday night I snapped this pic:

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If anything, the icicles have gotten longer since the storm.

As I write this (8am Tuesday), it’s 20º outside and the yards and rooftops are still blanketed in white ice.

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The schools are back in session though, so I guess the roads are clear.

The shortened winter days put my afternoon/evening walks on haitus a couple of weeks ago, and the icy ground has made weekend hiking and riding next to impossible since the storm. The forced inactivity is starting to make me feel cranky and depressed. But the sky is blue, and I see actual sunshine up in the treetops. Maybe I can make time for a walk today.

I don’t want to end this post on a grouchy note, so here are some nice statues I saw up in Grapevine the weekend before last.

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Categories: Family, kids, Life, School, trees, Weather, Winter | Tags: | Leave a comment

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