Volume 14, Issue 46; 10 Nov 2011

A few words and pictures about the October storm.

It's either a useful corollary to, or an alternate formulation of, Murphy's law that states that anything that can go wrong will go wrong at the worst possible time. This means that things break when I'm on the road.

I was standing on the rim of the The Grand Canyon when Deb called to tell me that it was snowing hard and the power had gone out.

I had no idea what that was going to mean.

(All the snowy pictures are Deb's by the way, taken on Sunday morning before I got home.)

By Sunday morning it was clearly a record breaking storm of cataclysmic proportions and I was struggling to find a flight home instead of travelling on to California. It's difficult to describe, and I'm not sure these pictures really do justice to, the level of destruction. Imagine building a 1/10th scale model town, complete with highly accurate trees. Then imagine putting on a pair of heavy boots and stomping all over the trees.

Every tree is damaged, most seriously, many catastrophically.

Our normally unremarkable street looked quite different.

Let me say up front [or in the middle, anyway —ed] that despite some dangerous looking trees, nothing that fell actually struck the house, the deck, the car, or any of us. We escaped unscathed in any serious way.

Out on route 9, a two-lane, well-travelled, normally well-maintained state road, there were other indications of the scale of the devestation.

I saw (but alas failed to photograph) at least five telephone poles sheared in half by the falling debris, leaving transformers and bits of pole scattered across the road.

Here are the sorts of things that fell on the wires:

To give you an idea of how stretched the local road crews were, those trees which would ordinarly have constituted the sort of emergency danger that's cleared away within hours, were untouched for several days.

Power was out for eight days. For us, no power means no heat and no running water. For the first few days, we lived in the dark and the cold, flushing toilets with snowmelt and showering at the town's emergency shelter. Thankfully, some friends in a neighboring town got power back on Wednesday, giving us somewhere warm to stay for the rest of the duration. It was 65°F when we moved out, 47°F when the power came back on.

I remain grateful, despite all the inconvenience, that outside temperatures were in the 40's and 50's during the day. If we'd had a week of temps in the 20's, the consequences could have been quite grave indeed for everyone waiting for repairs.

I went back through my archives and tried to construct some before-and-after scenes to catalog the destruction.

That's one of our favorite trees. It's not clear if it'll survive or not.

Ironically, we'd been talking about taking down some trees. Not these trees, of course, but c'est la vie. There are a few more pictures of the destruction on Flickr.

One final shout-out to all our neighbors on the off chance that they see this. Thanks for helping Deb when I wasn't home, helping us when I was, and generally just being great neighbors.


As you say, while you were away. Glad it all came good in the end! UK, winter 63, was bad, but I don't recall the tree damage you suffered.

Pretty to look at, but only from a warm room, lit, through the window?

—Posted by Dave Pawson on 10 Nov 2011 @ 01:43 UTC #

I had no idea it got that bad Norm, yikes. Very reminiscent of the '98 Ice Storm with the extensive tree damage and extended power outage. I assume you experienced it too?

—Posted by Mark Baker on 10 Nov 2011 @ 04:09 UTC #

I found it quite odd that was unreachable. This puts things in perspective. Good to hear no damage was done to you and yours.

—Posted by Derek Read on 14 Nov 2011 @ 09:32 UTC #