The Great 2009 Ice Storm

Marian_2(Z6 ARKozarks)February 12, 2009

I will attempt to get this story going....

The incoming freezing rain started Monday afternoon, Jan.26th. Later in the evening it turned into freezing sleet, then it went back to lots more freezing rain. It eventully turned into snow...I think that came Tuesday night.

Early Tuesday it was still pretty out:

The Liriodendron tulipifera was still intact:

Our power went out at 11:30 Tuesday, Jan. 27th.

The icicles were not very long yet:

By Wednesday 28th I wrote on my calendar: Devestating ice storm. Trees broken to pieces. Light snow on top of yesterday's ice.

I believe it was sometime this morning that I heard the 4-trunk birch lose it's first trunk. I will always believe it was the added weight of a large squirrel's nest that cause it to break.

You can only see three trunks in this pic. I couldn't get in a position to take a pic of all 4. The forth is behind the lefthand trunk...bowed over to the west. They went all 4 points of the compass....

The one that broke is the one in the middle, but this does not show the break! I am sure I took a pic of it at the time, but can't find it.

The cracking and crashing continued on all through that day and night, and the next day and night. We spent most of our daylight hours running from window to window to see what all was falling. The limbs were bowed down so low all over the yard we could hardly see beyond the closest ones. The view was blocked from the bay window towards the shop building, by the serviceberry:

A very large branch had broken on it, and lay the full length of the flowerbed. It just barely reached the Ginkgo, and only pinned down one branch. That branch did not break, but another one did. It will not change the overall shape of the tree....thank goodness.

It is in the left hand side of this pic:

That is the Honey Locust on the right.

The Heritage Birch was bowing lower and lower, and I was in terrible dread that it too would snap:

This is it taken through the bedroom window screen:

That is one of the tuliptree's limbs to the right of it. It snapped, and the broken end wedged into the ground. The top of it wedged beneath the house eaves. If it had fallen a few feet farther to the right it would have taken out the spare bedroom window!

BTW, while all this was going on, and after the power went out, I turned the spare bedroom into a refrigerator for the perishables.

Thursday Jan. 29th our cousin, the local sheriff, walked to our house to check on us. He was going to all the neighbors. He had to park at the head of our driveway and walk because the drive was blocked by fallen limbs.

Earlier a next door neighbor had called.

The temps had risen to a bit above freezing and was beginning to fall from trees. Friday 30th a breeze came up that added to the breakage and ice falling. Great showers of ice cascading down.

It became tricky for me to get firewood. I had spread ashes on my paths, and would get slabs from the front of the shed, and 'rounds' from the back. One trunk of the Birch put a stop to the slabs in front:

So all the access that I had was the path under the Red Oak, and it was breaking, as well as dropping showers of ice! I am sure my guardian angel was looking out for me, and neither branches nor ice hit me!

Friday Jan. 30th the Birch trunk, that was bowed down to the ground beside Nolon's bedroom, gave up and broke! I hated that!

You can see the first broken trunk clearly in that pic. There is a long split (at least 3 foot long) sticking up from the break, in the center on the tree.

I will stop here, and not press my luck....

I will continue with more later...


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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

Somehow there is beauty in the horror of it all Marian! All that ice against blue those last few pictures is quite something! But getting firewood sounds like no picnic.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2009 at 11:44AM
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I can see your ash path!

The birches are amazing! Some of them are still slumped over up here, and I wonder what they will look like in the upcoming "green" months. I'm sorry yours snapped.

Looking forward to more pictures!


    Bookmark   February 12, 2009 at 2:16PM
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veronicastrum(z5 IL)

Quite the storm, Marian. Thanks for sharing the photos. It's so sad to see those birches bent and snapped like that.


    Bookmark   February 12, 2009 at 5:03PM
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Marian_2(Z6 ARKozarks)

I am thankful that at least 2 of the 4 trunks survived the ice storm. I am debating whether to have the broken ones cut all the way down. They will need to be at least cut off at a slant. I do not see any breakage on the Heritage. Just numerous small twigs, but it drops them all the time. A third river birch at the west corner of our yard had no damage. It is a young one....only about 10 feet tall (I think). It has two trunks. I removed all the rest a couple of years ago.

Oh, Saucy! Both of is saw honey bees in a witch hazel at the north corner of our house today! I was wandering around taking more pics and heard them. Nolon said there were both yellow and black ones. I could not see them well enough to verify that. I tried to take pics of them , but only succeeded in getting a distant shot of one.


    Bookmark   February 12, 2009 at 5:12PM
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Marian_2(Z6 ARKozarks)

I am not ready to add more pics to this post, but will give the promised link.

Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   February 12, 2009 at 5:15PM
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Devastation and beauty combined. Thank you for sharing those with us Marian. We lost my favorite white birch to ice storm damage. The branches never "sprung" back up and it limped on for a couple of years before we had to chain saw it down. I remember so well the sound of falling ice sounding like chandaliers hitting the ground. Glad you are both OK and hope you didn't get too cold


    Bookmark   February 12, 2009 at 7:52PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

I'm sure I posted comments on this thread after gb's this morning - but they aren't here!

The pictures are beautiful - but scarey....

The refrigerator bedroom sounds a little chilly! Is your wood stove enough to heat the whole house or just some rooms?

It's good that you have neighbours that check in on you guys at times like that.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2009 at 8:16PM
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deanneart(z5Southern NH)

Amazing pictures Marian! Horrible Ice storm. Looks just like what it did here on our December 12th storm. We were hearing exactly what you described with the cracking and crashing trees going on for days. Pretty scary! Glad you and NOlan are OK. So sorry for all the damage.


    Bookmark   February 12, 2009 at 8:22PM
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Wow Marian, these are beautiful and powerful images. You are surely lucky that you had no damage to your home.Thanks for taking the time to post these..I look forward to visiting your link..

Kathy in Napa

    Bookmark   February 12, 2009 at 8:29PM
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Marian_2(Z6 ARKozarks)

Saucy, our birches have been bowed over by ice before, and always eventually returned to an entirely upright position.
Mary, I am sorry you had to cut yours down. Mine are River birches. White birches do not do well here. Not cold enough I guess?
We did not get cold because we burn wood and it wasn't cold enough for us to need the supplimental electric heaters that we use in bathrooms and the utility room. I have a fan that runs with batteries, and I used it to circulate the heat from the stove on the coldest days.
I guess my plants in the utility room liked the colder temps in there. They all look good, and the Canna is puting up lots of new leaves!

Some of the shrubs that were beneath the bowed over canopys of the birches were unharmed. The Dawn Redwood and Maackii were under the Heritage Birch. I was really concerned about them, but they are both fine. My best Japanese Viburnum was under the birch top by the woodshed. It is fine.
I am sweating out the survival of the Burkwood Viburnum in front of the shop. The extremely tall Wild Black Cherry has a couple of large broken hanging down branches. If they fall, they will most likely smash that Viburnum. It (the Viburnum)is covered with flower buds. I took some pics of the cherry today, and hope to add them to this thread. It had a third hanger, that did fall during the latest wind, but barely missed the Viburnum.

My small Fringe Tree was unscathed. The Honey locust that towers over it lost a sizable limb, but it fell towards the house, and did not hit anything. There are several more hangers on the same side. My concern about them is that they could hit the dinningroom windows. All of it's broken ones are on the northern side. There were no broken ones on the other sides.
The Honey Locust in the front yard lost one good-sized limb that fell in our pathway out from the house. It is the one in the pic of where I fed the birds. There are at least three more smaller ones hanging high on the northwest side.
I don't think there are any hangers in the tuliptree. All of the broken ones fell to the ground! At least half of it's canopy broke.
Most of the yard dogwoods and serviceberries have at least one broken limb, but most are recoverable.The big one in front of the bay window was hit the worse. We noticed it has a fractured limb up high that we are hoping will heal It is not broken...yet. We plan on using a come-along to bring the huge limb, that was blocking the view to the shop, back to a closer position to the rest of the tree. We thought sure it was a goner, but when the ice went off, it returned to almost it's original position. It had pulled away at the bottom, but not broken. It is actually more of a trunk, than a limb. It was bowed over the large Viburnum at the corner of the house. I thought sure that V would be damaged, but it wasn't.

The Ninebark in the bed near the deck was mashed down into a small wad by the ice. I was setting at the dinningroom table working a puzzle and saw what appeared to be an 'explosion' in it. I thought a limb from the red oak by the woodshed had hit it. After the ice cleared from it I discovered that a couple of it's limbs had broken, causing the 'explosion'. It looks quite okay now. All of our redbuds had at least one limb broken.

The Sweet Gum out front has most of it's central limbs gone. It looks pretty homely!

On Saturday Jan 31, I had 4 phone calls. The first was one of the men from our congregation. The second was my sister in Idaho. She had heard about the storm on TV,(she has called 2-3 times since, including today). The third was a very good long time friend from the Harrison congregation. Her power had come back. And the 4th was our Tim.
I wrote on my calendar, " Ice all off trees but still on ground - slushy."

I do not remember what day the 2 men from the Forest Service came and cut the trees out of our driveway. Probably the 30th or 31st. They moved the ones that blocked our circle drive also.

I think it was Monday the 2nd that I went to town. The county road out to the highway was, and still is, lined with all the trees and limbs that were removed from the road. I think the Forest Service did that also. In one wooded field above the road I counted over a dozen large trees uprooted within a very small area! Many of them had fallen into the road, and only the offending tops were removed.


    Bookmark   February 12, 2009 at 9:05PM
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Marian_2(Z6 ARKozarks)

Here are 2 more pics that I took today.
The first is the Wild Cherry tree;

The second is downed limbs in front of the storage shed:

    Bookmark   February 12, 2009 at 9:15PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Well Marian...I am impressed not only that you and Nolan and the kitties managed to get through 12 days without power, but that you were so brave to venture out every day with all that ice to get firewood! Also nice to know your friends and neighbors were good about checking on you. I am so sorry for all the damage to your trees. I know how much you enjoy them. You took some very nice shots of all the ice. We have had ice storms here, but never as bad as that. I couldn't believe how long the icicles were! I would imagine you are pretty tired after such an ordeal. What we all could use about now is spring!


    Bookmark   February 13, 2009 at 5:13AM
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Marian_2(Z6 ARKozarks)

Pm2, the odd thing is that I was rather enjoying the novelty of it all ...until about the 9th or 10th day. Then it did start to taste of the keg! :-(
I am hoping the illness I am suffering now is from the after effects. I am telling everyone that I am suffering post traumatic stress syndrome. I hope that is the case, and that I will perk up pretty soon.

As for venturing out on the ice. I just did what I had to do. The only place I went was to the woodshed after I spread ashes in front of me. Because of the warmth of the ground the accumulation was not deep, on the ground. Naturally, it does not have to be deep to be slick, but I was extremely cautious. I did not even step out on the front porch until it thawed from near the door, then I stepped out only far enough to throw food to thee birds.

I wish I had a camera that took good close-ups. Among the takers of the bird food was a Towhee,a pair of Red Birds, Mourning Doves, White Breasted Sparrows, Juncos, and the ever present Crows.

Woody, I thought I saw a comment from you after Marie's too??? Strange.... I should have responded to it immediately, and that would have been proof!
The 'refrigerator' bedroom got down into the lower 40s. That is where I wanted it to stay, but the warmer weather did not cooperate. I even opened the windows at night to keep it cold in there. Then, when it continued to warm up outside, I hung heavy blankets over the windows to attempt to hold in the cold! It apparantly was cold enough. All the refrigerator stuff that has not been used yet is fine.

Our wood stove is in the livingroom, and the heat very seldom warms the back bedrooms all the way up to above the 60s, even when the livingroom is in the 70s. We run the livingroom ceiling fan on cold days to spread the heat around. The battery powered fan that I have, has a hook on it that I ended up using to hang over the door to the utility room. to push warm air into it, for the plants. That worked good too. That room is 4 steps lower than the rest of the house, so all the cold gathers in it. It has a cement floor, too. I sat some food items on that floor part of the time. I am sure it was sufficienly cold enough!

I am sure you have all heard the saying, "Necessity is the mother of invention." I am quite good at 'inventing' :-).

I am afraid 'spring' is still some distance from most of us. There is the chance of snow in our early forecast, and more rain (possibly freezing) next week! more of that!

Yes, the damage to our trees is espacially bad for us. We have no prospects of seeing them recover due to our ages. I will try to accept the fact that they are now 'picturesque'! They have 'character'. More wealthier folks can have the damaged trees removed, and replaced with sizable 'pretty' trees. Any of ours that shade our house are not expendable. With no AC we really depend on them for cooling.

I have several small potted trees that I can put out, but will need help with the digging of the holes. Some are rather fast growing, so I will (most likely) see results from them.
I enjoy both the beauty, and the shade of our trees. At one time I longed for my own arboretum. I had a pretty good start at it. :-) Nature is very cruel in this area, but it could be much worse. We still have a roof (of our own) over our heads. Something that a lot of people do not have.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2009 at 8:47AM
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Marian, I wonder if your bees are honey bees or mason bees? I think if they were yellow jackets, then they'd live in the ground (if I'm not mistaken).

Mason bees can bee darker than most honey bees, though honey bees come in lots of shades between brown and black.

I'll be excited to know :)


    Bookmark   February 13, 2009 at 3:47PM
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Marian_2(Z6 ARKozarks)

Saucy, they were definately honey bees. The pic I took is of a black one. The are in the wild here.

I wish I could have taken a closer pic, but maybe you can see it okay.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2009 at 4:52PM
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flowerluvr(Z5 IN)

Wow, Marian-those are some amazing pictures! I think the worst power outage we've had has been 4-5 days. Kudos to you for getting the job done getting the firewood in, AND for getting the pictures!

    Bookmark   February 14, 2009 at 1:44PM
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The pictures are amazing, too bad the damage comes with the ice. It looks like a fair amount of clean up to be done. We have had ice storms like that but never were without power for more than a day. I'm glad you are inventive and were able to get along reasonably well.


    Bookmark   February 15, 2009 at 9:19AM
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Marian, my bees were out the other day when it hit 58 - I imagine bees get a bit of cabin fever after being in their hive all winter, as they stay active.

Your bees have some pollen to collect! My bees just came out to collect water and they cleaned their hive. The ground around the hive is littered with dead bees and excrement - food for the flowers :)


    Bookmark   February 15, 2009 at 9:54AM
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Marian: Forgive my tardiness in saluting you and Nolon for making it through! No wonder you're feeling tired and worn, my friend! Take care with the cleanup by remembering you had nothing to do with the damage! You'll see healing before you know it :-)


    Bookmark   February 15, 2009 at 10:08AM
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Marian, quite an ice storm you had there. We have one come through here every few years and I hate them. Glad you made it through relatively unscathed. Don't you just hate that cracking sound the branches make just before they fall? Thanks for sharing the pictures. I always find it's surprising how quickly the trees recover. Won't take as long as you think.


    Bookmark   February 15, 2009 at 10:13AM
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Marian_2(Z6 ARKozarks)

An update....we are working every chance we get, weather permitting, to get the yard cleaned up. Nolon cuts out the firewood, and I drag the remaining limbs and twigs to one of the several piles around the perimeter of our yard. I keep discovering more breakage that we had missed before. It was a strange thing....many limbs split open, but did not break off.
At the One Stop we talked to a couple that lives a few miles from us. He is the same age as I (She probably is too). They have lived here all their lives, but said they never saw anything like the breakage from that storm. They have a large farm, and are busy fixing fences that were downed by falled trees and limbs.(He is Nolon's barber.)

I think part of the problem is that it had been unseasonably warm, and the sap was up. And talking about sap, the ends of the broken trunks on the river birch are 'bleeding' vigoriously, and have long icicles hanging down, on cold days. I way be weird, but I ate several of the sap icicles today. They have no didtinctive flavor. :-)

I cleaned the debris from the base of the honey locust at the end of the house. The dafodils at it's base are getting ready to bloom!

The Cornelian cherry is starting to bloom, too.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2009 at 6:35PM
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Take it slow Marian. Don't overdo or you'll regret it. Slow and steady as they say. I know after an ice storm there's so much cleanup. And by the looks and sound of it yours was one of the worst. At least it sounds like spring is beginning to arrive for you. I'd love to see some blooms. We should have snowdrops showing here soon if the snow would melt. Thanks for the update.


    Bookmark   February 23, 2009 at 7:11PM
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Marian_2(Z6 ARKozarks)

Eden, I had almost forgotten about all the destruction you had from the ice storm at your home. Have you got everything straightened out now? You even had structural damage, didn't you? Did you lose any important plants? Have damaged ones returned to an acceptable condition?

I have decided I will have Nolon cut the Ninebark down. It is old and has a lot of dead in it. There is a volunteer dogwood back of it, that we will leave. It is only about 3 foot tall now. But they grow very fast here.

In a way, I am starting to get excited about the possibilities of adding new trees and shrubs.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2009 at 7:35PM
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Marian, we have a nasty ice storm come through here every few years it seems. Once we had a large limb fall on our car. That was in '97. We've also had our gutter knocked down by falling branches and I even had a really cool chiminea broken once. We have lots of old trees surrounding us. None of which are on our property. They are close enough to fall on our house though. The storm damage you're thinking of I think was from a thunderstorm on July 5, 2007. Half a tree fell across my garden and took out our garden shed. The tree had to be taken down as did the remains of the shed. I lost 2 little japanese maples, and a cornus kousa, a couple of urns, and my little oxydendrum is still trying to recover. The sun patterns in my garden were changed and it looks much different back there now but like you I rolled with it and it ended up being good to be able to change things around.


    Bookmark   February 23, 2009 at 9:35PM
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Marian_2(Z6 ARKozarks)

Oh yes. Eden, I remember now....a thunderstorm, not an ice storm.

As for myself, I think of my age, in relation to waiting for new growth of any large growing items. But, in the long run, it really is not important. I will just enjoy what I have, in it's present condition. :-)

I can still look forward to my deck containers. They may have a little more sunshine than the last year or so, but that will be okay....I think. At least the Hawthorn that I hang so many pots in, is undamaged. I call it my 'hanging tree' :-) The front of the house will have more southwest sun if the Heritage Birch continues to lean so far to the northwest! That will be a bummer. Not only will the house get too much sun, but it will not be as good for the row of potted plants that I like to set at the foundation.:-(
Oh well....

    Bookmark   February 23, 2009 at 10:14PM
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