1991 - Halloween Ice Storm

When we first considered buying this property our largest concern was the well and septic. Neither one of us understood either of them very well and knew that the cost of upkeep might be expensive. Little did we know that the one thing we should have been most concerned about was the weather and how it can change our outlook about the choices we made about housing. It was October 31, 1991 about 11:00 AM when Sandy called me at work to report that the rain had turned to freezing rain and that for some reason there was water running into our walk-in closet.

The old willow did not hold up to the weight of the ice

By the time I made it home everything had a thin coat of ice clinging to it and I felt lucky to make it home. Once in the house I tried to determine what was causing the leak and could only conclude that the ice had dammed up the the roof drains on the flat roof. So I got into some work clothes and went out to inspect the damage. I was able to determine that I was correct but there was nothing I could do about it until the ice storm quit. In the picture above you can see the willow that set towards the west side of the back yard, it took the biggest hit of the large trees.

The apple tree did not survive the storm

The storm raged on all night and by morning we were without power. Being without power not only meant no heat but also no water since the well needs electricity to work as well. The house did have a wood burning fireplace but unfortunatly we did not have any firewood. I did find some scrap wood to burn but it did not last long and the house was getting colder by the hour. Luckily the power did come back on the next day before we had any frozen pipes or related damage. The picture above and below shows the damage done to the old apple tree. This tree was in tough shape when we moved in but this was the end of it. I was forced to cut it down as part of cleaning up the mess.

More apple tree damage

There was one positive thing about the ice, it froze up the leaky roof for a couple days. As soon as the weather cleared I went to work on the roof leak and was able to make an emergency patch that held until spring when I was able to patch it better. The image below shows the damage to both the apple and willow trees.

The willow and apple tree damage

When I finished working on the roof patch I started cleaning up the ice damaged trees. We were just sick at the amount of damage and although we tried to be optimistic that the ice did not kill all the trees we still knew that the damage was pretty serious. I decided that I would take the damaged limbs off and pile them near the shop where I could cut them up as firewood. This turned out to be another flawed decision as I piled them in the path of the NW winds and the first snow that came in a few days quickly filled the brush with snow and resulted in a huge drift across the driveway. And to compound the matter we did not have a snow blower so snow removal was a big job.

The birch tree looked horrible

Of course the most sickening damage occurred right in front of our eyes. As we watched the storm progress we would look out the west patio door to see our favorite tree as the weight of the ice forced the limbs to the ground. They got so low that they touched the ground and froze in place. The top of the tree broke off leaving a very ragged trunk sticking up and a huge hole in the shape of the tree. When the picture above was taken the brancheshad stared to thaw out and showed some signs that the damage was not permanent. Of course there was no way to fix the top of the tree and even 10 years later the damage to the top still shows when the leaves are off the tree.

This was the start to our first winter in the country and it was full of lessons on how to prepare for the change in seasons.

Stop back again, if we're "lucky" we'll have some more photos to look at. Return to our Photo Page or to our Home Page