Ice storms

Nealm66

Minister of Fire
Sep 25, 2020
874
Western Washington
Storms like that can bring a lot of crazy work for a tree service. One I remember well was on a donated piece of land for the Audubon society where a bunch of tall little fir trees, maybe 100’ , had bent way over and they wanted them topped lol. Well , not sure how many bids they got as that would have been insane, I walked around scratching my head and then devised a simple solution. I bid it fairly high suspecting nobody else thought of it. I towed my little garret 10 skidder over there, climbed up a tree next to one that needed topped, threw a line over it, pulled up a cable , used a clevace like a slip knot, ran the cable down through a block at the base of the tree needing topped. Then I just winched the top into the base until it snapped off. They were super happy. Said the broken tops were better for nest building lol. None of these trees were going to live either way but who knows, maybe they made some good bird nests
 

firefighterjake

Minister of Fire
Jul 22, 2008
19,371
Unity/Bangor, Maine
The Ice storm of 98 in New England was the big driver in New England, Quebec and possibly the maritimes. Large amounts of the power grid towers in southern Quebec collapsed. I think Montreal was down to one line out of many. Rural areas off the main lines were out for weeks and in some cases more than a month. Many of the US utilities had been under investing in tree trimming and rural lines while they made their money dabbling in big projects. Lots of folks suddenly realized they were lot more vulnerable and went with wood and generators. My guess is there was more backup equipment sold in the region than in preparation for Y2K a few years later. I was on the lower fringes of elevation. i lost half my hardwoods within a few days and the remaining 50% had major crown damage. I had fairly young wood with plenty of small trees that eventually moved in but in mature woods it changed them permanently.

I remember for a week after the sound of breaking trees. They were all covered with inches of ice and when one branch finally snapped it would fall down and start a cascade of limbs breaking. It was life threatening to go in the woods as one never knew when a tree would disintegrate. I helped a local hiking club reopen trails in section of woods that got it the worst, it was mature wood mostly sugar maples and other northern hardwoods and the tree tops and branches could be 10 to 12 feet high. We would have two sawyers and 10 swampers and as the sawyer cut into the tops, they would have to be very careful as when they cut one another one trapped by the weight may spring up.
I remember very well the sound of the breaking limbs and the tinkling of the ice coming off.

One good thing that came out of this storm was that summer the local power company did a lot of tree work and for several years we rarely saw the power even flicker.
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
5,636
Downeast Maine
I remember very well the sound of the breaking limbs and the tinkling of the ice coming off.

One good thing that came out of this storm was that summer the local power company did a lot of tree work and for several years we rarely saw the power even flicker.
You think they would have taken the hint and just buried the lines. Over 20 years later and having the same problems.
 

firefighterjake

Minister of Fire
Jul 22, 2008
19,371
Unity/Bangor, Maine
You think they would have taken the hint and just buried the lines. Over 20 years later and having the same problems.
Way, way too expensive . . . especially since a good portion of Maine is on ledge and granite.

That said . . . you would think they would want to be more aggressive in terms of tree trimming . . . but I am assuming once again it comes down to being an expense, hassle dealing with some folks not wanting trees in the right of way trimmed up and a gamble as to which will cost more: proactive tree trimming or reactive power restoration.
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
5,636
Downeast Maine
Way, way too expensive . . . especially since a good portion of Maine is on ledge and granite.

That said . . . you would think they would want to be more aggressive in terms of tree trimming . . . but I am assuming once again it comes down to being an expense, hassle dealing with some folks not wanting trees in the right of way trimmed up and a gamble as to which will cost more: proactive tree trimming or reactive power restoration.
I would assume that the power companies have spent more on trimming trees and paying linesmen to fix outages than they would have to burry the lines 20-30+ years ago. It's a massive upfront cost, but it saves everyone money in the long run. Half of the high power rates in this state are due to the line maintenance.
 

Grizzerbear

Minister of Fire
Feb 12, 2019
975
SW Missoura
Way, way too expensive . . . especially since a good portion of Maine is on ledge and granite.

That said . . . you would think they would want to be more aggressive in terms of tree trimming . . . but I am assuming once again it comes down to being an expense, hassle dealing with some folks not wanting trees in the right of way trimmed up and a gamble as to which will cost more: proactive tree trimming or reactive power restoration.
A heck of a lot more dangerous too.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,132
Northern NH
That debate comes up on burial frequently. The new owners of the phone system in Maine would not buy the system unless they got relief from must serve requirements as they could not afford to keep their antiquated wire infrastructure in place in rural areas. Their solution is that in certain rural areas they can apply to abandon the copper lines if there is adequate cell coverage. Phone companies and power companies share poles so if the phone company goes away, power company gets to maintain it themselves. Its not hard to add capacity and new drops to an existing aerial system but underground systems pretty well need to be designed and installed with all future services in mind. This is fine for an urban housing development but along a rural road in the country its just not practical as the initial cost to run power down that road would be very expensive. In most cases the utility will cover one new pole on a new service, after that the landowner has to come up with the cash. I know a person who needed two poles and the up front cost was $8,500 dollars to get power (given the location he got a heck of a deal). If the infrastructure was buried my guess is the cost would be a factor of 10 increase making large swaths of rural land not affordable to build on.

Of course there is always the option to go off the grid but few individuals are willing to put up with the costs and limitations associated with off grid living. Generally the land price savings will be rapidly eaten up by Off the Grid costs. Most life cycle analysis of Off the Grid power is 4 to 5 times more than conventional .

Most analysis I have seen is the combination of aerial lines with underground drops to homes with ongoing aggressive trimming is the lowest cost way to supply power to rural areas. My neighborhood is mostly set up that way with most homes voluntarilly paying to put in undergroudn drops. Knock on wood in 30 years the longest outage was around 12 hours during the Ice storm of 98 when the main transmission lines to the region were sagging on the ground. I know my utility switched from 4' clearance to 6' and the crews are quite aggressive on leaners. In the past they tended to take in landowners preference to save large trees but they are far less agreeable these days. This inevitably sets up complaints in areas with scenic country roads as frequently the big trees need to go as they are the biggest risk to the power system. On the other hand I have seen some real hack jobs where the big trees are given a crew cut on the side facing the power line. The crews know that it will probably kill the tree eventually but its covers their butt.
 

CincyBurner

Minister of Fire
Mar 10, 2015
560
SW Ohio
You think they would have taken the hint and just buried the lines.
Once electrical lines are moved below ground it's much tougher to locate and repair a shorted line.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Grizzerbear

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,132
Northern NH
Years ago I worked for a water utility. One of the rural towns allowed private developments and the regulations for buried utilities were different for private roads than public roads. The area had lots of ledge so they had to blast in a trench for the utilities. On public roads they have to maintain horizontal spacing between the utilities so it could get expensive. The developer of this private development decided to save money so they blasted in a trench and put the sanitary sewer on the bottom, with the water line layered on top and then dropped the buried power and phone on top. No doubt when all the lots were sold and the developer was long gone there would be real interesting repair if any of the lines needed repair ;). Similar issues like this occur in private mobile home parks all the time. Up in my area the frost under plowed roads can get 5 feet deep and the normal approach to go cheap is bury them shallow and run water at the end of the line to keep if from freezing. It works until someone shuts off the water.
 

MoDoug

Minister of Fire
Feb 3, 2018
546
NE Missouri
There's a large dead elm that I've been eyeballing for a couple years, I really want to harvest it, but it's way above my pay grade. This tree is approaching 4' at the base, with a lot of large branches in every direction. I can see a large branch dropping off just from the vibration as soon as the saw touches the trunk. Sure enough after the ice storm last week a couple large branchs broke off, and they are now in my wood stack for next season. The picture does not do it justice.
 

Attachments

  • Like
Reactions: neverbilly

TradEddie

Minister of Fire
Jan 24, 2012
927
SE PA
Having driven FWD and AWD/4WD during and after ice and snow storms, I believe that the reason you see more AWD/4WD gone off the road is that the FWD driver knows immediately how bad the roads are, and therefore takes much more care. I once drove my FWD three terrifying white knuckle miles home, struggling to accelerate or steer, while my wife soon cheerily arrived home in her Subaru, wondering why everyone was driving so slow!
TE
 

kennyp2339

Minister of Fire
Feb 16, 2014
5,710
07462
I tell you what, if this weather pattern keeps up, someone in the NE is going to get another storm, right now the storm track is basically southern sliders out to sea, but then curving up, it doesnt take much to get a storm that either cuts through the great lakes towards Canada, or even worse a Apps runner, cold air gets wedged in down to the cumberland gap, but the temps riser above freezing due to the southern storm tack above 10k ft, spells ice ice baby.
 

Grizzerbear

Minister of Fire
Feb 12, 2019
975
SW Missoura
Speaking of southern storm tracks I saw that Texas and Louisiana may get some snow this weekend with roughly Amarillo to Dallas getting the heaviest snow. There has also been a lot of talk about the polar vortex slipping down to the states late next week which will bring cold air to the eastern half of the country.
 

MoDoug

Minister of Fire
Feb 3, 2018
546
NE Missouri
Speaking of southern storm tracks I saw that Texas and Louisiana may get some snow this weekend with roughly Amarillo to Dallas getting the heaviest snow. There has also been a lot of talk about the polar vortex slipping down to the states late next week which will bring cold air to the eastern half of the country.
One of our favorite National Parks is Big Bend in southwestern Texas, along the Rio Grande. About 6 years ago we went down there for a month to get away from the winter. Turns out they were hit with an ice storm as we were heading there, we ending up staying in Abilene for a couple days while they restored power lines at Big Bend. Never expected an ice storm that far south, but it happens.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Grizzerbear

Grizzerbear

Minister of Fire
Feb 12, 2019
975
SW Missoura
One of our favorite National Parks is Big Bend in southwestern Texas, along the Rio Grande. About 6 years ago we went down there for a month to get away from the winter. Turns out they were hit with an ice storm as we were heading there, we ending up staying in Abilene for a couple days while they restored power lines at Big Bend. Never expected an ice storm that far south, but it happens.
I hear ya. Back in 2011 I believe.....I was working in Baytown, which is just east of Houston, at a refinery when the area received a minor ice event. It didn't cause any real line damage but the roads were slick as snot. Needless to say there were cars in ditches everywhere. I had always assumed the winters down there would be rather warm compared to home....and they are....but boy it's cold when that damp wind comes off the gulf. I liked to froze to death that winter lol. That happened to be the same storm that dumped twenty inches here at home and the last big snow here as well.
 
  • Like
Reactions: MoDoug

MoDoug

Minister of Fire
Feb 3, 2018
546
NE Missouri
I hear ya. Back in 2011 I believe.....I was working in Baytown, which is just east of Houston, at a refinery when the area received a minor ice event. It didn't cause any real line damage but the roads were slick as snot. Needless to say there were cars in ditches everywhere. I had always assumed the winters down there would be rather warm compared to home....and they are....but boy it's cold when that damp wind comes off the gulf. I liked to froze to death that winter lol. That happened to be the same storm that dumped twenty inches here at home and the last big snow here as well.
I remember that snow well, good and bad, I always enjoy a good snow fall, seems like it been a while. The bad, one the the trusses in my garage broke, fortunately the header board caught it before it got very far. I did some reinforcing after that..
 
  • Like
Reactions: Grizzerbear