If I didn't know what post-traumatic stress felt like before, I sure do now. Because as soon as I heard that a significant freezing rain event was headed our way, I couldn't get thoughts and feelings of the Great Ice Storm of February 2021 out of my mind.
Along with hundreds of thousands of other Oregonians, our home got about 5/8 of an inch of ice in that horrendous weather disaster. We lost lots of trees, including two big branches from an ancient white oak.
And our electricity was out for 12 days. Not fun, obviously.
It's difficult to forecast freezing rain, since it requires a special atmospheric setup: a layer of warm air that melts frozen precipitation, which then freezes when it hits cold surfaces. I'd seen estimates that the Salem area, where we live, could get as much as four-tenths of an inch of ice from freezing rain.
Not as much as in 2021, but enough to cause problems with falling limbs/trees and power outages. So foe days I doom scrolled my iPhone's weather apps, along with perusing the National Weather Service web site for our location and the weather news on Portland TV stations.
In the end, we only got a few tenths of an inch of ice. Maybe that doesn't seem like a lot. Believe me, it is. Our driveway in rural south Salem became a solid sheet of ice, impossible to walk or drive on, even with my Subaru Crosstrek and its winter tires.
That dark dot in the driveway is a stuffed wolf. More about that in a bit. Above is a photo of the upper part of our driveway, where I'd parked the Subaru close to Lake Drive. This is what just a little bit of freezing rain can produce: virtually impassible roads.
Also, very difficult to walk on walkways, like the one leading to our front door. Take one step on the walkway without temporary cleats on shoes and you'll be on your butt. I know, because that almost happened to me this morning.
Freezing rain isn't nearly as attractive as snow. It gave our yard a sort of snow-like feel, but it's easy to walk on snow. You can play in it. You can throw it. With freezing rain, you struggle to deal with it. It's the nastiest form of winter precipitation.
Still, since our electricity didn't go off -- my biggest worry with this 2022 ice storm -- I was in a pretty buoyant mood this afternoon. So I did engage with the ice on our driveway in a playful fashion.
My scientific quest was to determine what would slide furthest: a shoe, a banana, or a stuffed wolf? After the experiment, I then attempted to rescue the wolf from the middle of the driveway, which didn't go so well, as shown in the video. Nonetheless, I await my senior citizen scientist award.
The video shows the lighter side of white ice. Black ice is scarier, being clear, so a roadway can look fine when it really isn't. I wrote about this in "Black ice story in New Yorker brings back some slippery memories."
I'm hoping that a story in the most recent issue of The New Yorker, "Black Ice, Near-Death, and Transcendence on I-91," will make people more aware of the dangers of black ice, and also reassure people like me who live in areas that don't get a lot of snow, but do regularly get black ice, that we aren't winter weenies.