Thursday, December 18, 2008

Have You Seen This Man?

Hello faithful readers, I have returned. I was not gone by choice, but forced into exile by that cruel mistress, Mother Nature. As you may or may not have heard, the northeast United States was hit by an "Ice Storm" on December 11th. Electricity went down at 11:05 that night, and just returned yesterday, December 17th, at 7:30 PM.

Scott Bulger Photography

What we had wasn't actually an "Ice Storm", but freezing rain. "Ice Storm" is so much more dramatic though, don't you think? For those of you not fortunate enough to know this information first hand, let me explain. An "Ice Storm" is when little pellets of ice (also known as sleet) rain down on us from above. It stings the skin and slickens the road, but it doesn't really stick to anything, bouncing off like very cold grains of sand. "Freezing Rain" on the other hand, is a whole different ball of wax. When the temperature in the upper atmosphere is warm enough for the precipitation to fall as rain (say 34 degrees), and the temperature at the ground is cold enough to freeze this precipitation (say 30 degrees), you get a recipe for trouble. Not just regular old trouble, but trouble of epic proportions. You've all been caught in a rainstorm before, right? Well imagine if the rain was pouring down, but freezing into ice the moment it hit your skin. Fairly quickly, you would be encased in a cocoon of frozen glaze. Cold, immobilizing, and most importantly, very heavy.

Scott Bulger Photography
This isn't upside down. It's a 50' birch tree that is literally bent over 180 degrees.

Trees don't have the sense to come inside out of the rain to warm up and dry off. They just stand out there, rooted to their spots, getting thicker and heavier by the minute. Depending on the type of tree, it either bends (birch), or breaks (every other). When the trees bend or break, they inevitably land on power lines and roads, hence the major power outages. At the height of the aftermath the following morning, there were 415,000 electrical customers in New Hampshire with no power. To put this in perspective, in 2000, New Hampshire had 474,606 households. Maybe now, that is up to 500,000. That would make over 80% of the state was without electricity on the morning following the storm. I don't impress easily, but heck, that is an impressive number.

Scott Bulger Photography
This is what a tree looks like after siting in the freezing rain for about 6 hours.

We were fortunate. We have a wood stove and were able to heat the house, cook food, and boil water. It was very peaceful, out here in the woods, full moon glistening off of the ice all around us like a crystal castle. I just went down to the pond in the back yard with my ax, chopped a hole in the ice, and brought back buckets of water so that we could flush the toilets. It was very Charles Ingalls of me.

Scott Bulger Photography
Blades of Grass

I'm glad to have the power back. I have much work to do, and am now a week further behind than I already was. The last of my Christmas orders will be going out on Saturday, and I personally guarantee that you will have them for the big day. Unfortunately, unless you live within driving distance, I will not be taking any more orders for Christmas delivery. Don't blame me, blame Mother Nature.