Ice Storms…ever see one?

The science:

Ice Storms occur when warmer air rides over colder air at the surface. For this particular storm we had an Arctic dome of very cold air over the region. Air that cold is dense, and heavy, so approaching weather systems have a hard time pushing this colder air away, so the warmer air rises and flows over the cold dome. As precipitation in the form of rain begins to fall high overhead, it falls through the cold column at the surface. Since the entire column of air is not cold, there isn’t sufficient time for the droplet to turn to snow or sleet. Instead, the droplet becomes super cooled. This super cooled droplet immediately freezes when it comes in contact with anything. A tree, a car, your mailbox, the road, your coat.

As the rain continues to fall through the cold column the droplets freeze on tree branches. As more droplets hit the branch they freeze on top of the ice already there. Over time, the branches get heavier and heavier from the weight of the ice.

In this particular storm the ice formed ½” accreditation on the limbs, and with that much ice, limbs begin to fall and whole trees can come down.

I was standing in my driveway listening to the branches snapping and the trees falling in the forest. The number of trees and branches that come down are amazing. We lost power for 15 hours during this storm. Power was restored around 5AM the next day.

Visit my website to keep track of the Weather here in New England.


Tell me: Have you ever seen an ice storm? Do they have them where you live?

I took these pictures after the storm was over the next morning.

The forest is coated with ice:

You can see how the weight of the ice pulls tree branches down:

The individual branches are encased in ice:

The next few shots were taken about 2 miles from my house. You can see how the ice covers everything:

Look closely, and you can see the ice on the power lines:

Look at the pines tree branches covered in ice and sagging down:

…and the snow continues to pile up. An early Spring Season would be most welcome.


Leave a Reply