Washington Ice Storm – 19 January 2012

The last couple of days, Western Washington was hit by a snow storm which was followed by freezing rain creating an ice storm.  All the trees and streets were coated in ice.  As the ice continued to build up on the trees, branches started to snap and fall, knocking down power lines and blocking roads.  According to the State Patrol more the 700 vehicle accidents were reported in the first 12 hours of the storm (people in the NW do not know how to drive in the snow).  Power in the Northwest was knocked out in several locations in the South Sound area leaving more than 300,000 customers without power.  The power companies estimate it may take several days to weeks to get all the power restored.

Snow glazed with ice covers cars left in a parking lot.

Where I live, 25 miles west of Olympia, we were lucky.  Our power did go out, but not until late in the afternoon on Thursday and it was restored within three hours.  The roads however were still covered in ice and snow and vehicles were finding it difficult to move about.  A neighbor got his car stuck as he tried to drive into his driveway.  The snow was deeper than the clearance on his small car.  I have the same problem and with a 100 yard long driveway, it is not easy dig a pathway to drive down.  So I just don’t drive anywhere, I stay home or walk.

On Friday the weather had warmed above freezing and it was raining so the snow was melting rapidly.  The weather service has now issued flood alerts for most of the area as the rivers start to swell from the increased snow melt.  I’ve talked to a few friends who tell me the power is still out in most of Olympia.

Despite all the disruptions, damage and accidents caused by these rare NW winter storms, I find them fascinating, beautiful, and in a way calming.  The snow and ice often forces us to stay at home, spend time with family and friends, and slow our lives down.  The power outages make us turn off our TV’s and read a book or play games.  We often get so wrapped up in our schedules and responsibilities that we sometimes forget to live and enjoy life around us.

Palm trees in my yard drooping under the weight of snow and ice.

If the weather prevents us from going to work, then stay home.  Don’t take chances and head out simply because you believe you have to be somewhere.  No one has to be somewhere.  You’ll make it in just maybe not today…and the world will keep on turning.

I have worked in the emergency response field for nearly 30 years and have had to respond to many different types of emergencies.  I realize that some of us have to go out into the worse weather for any number of reasons.  But what I have found is those who have to be out in bad weather generally know what they are doing and are safe.  It’s those who don’t have to be out but think they do for whatever reason usually cause the problems.  Those that don’t prepare or plan seem to be the ones who get into trouble.

Stay home and enjoy the storms, don’t fret them.  Slow down and enjoy life and all that is around us, be safe.   Think of severe weather as a message from Mother Natures that not only does she often have the last say, but we should stop and look at what we have and enjoy the moment, even if it is a little unpleasant.


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