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Nature's Cold Shoulder

Freezing rain... sounds innocent enough, until it becomes a layer of ice, enveloping every single thing in a heavy, unwelcome embrace.

(image credit: João Paglione)

(image courtesy: Rick Macomber (c)2007)

Ice storms are able to put the life of an entire state on hold, as power distribution is disrupted and often not restored for a couple of weeks. You are left with nothing much to do, other than to admire the cold beauty of ice "kingdom" around you. You turn into a truly "captive audience".

A week without any power

We all remember the 1998 ice storm in Quebec. Here are some pictures of this devastating event. Over fifty high voltage towers collapsed, one after another. According to wiki "just one quarter of an inch of ice accumulation can add about 500 pounds of weight per line span".

(photo by Michel Laflamme)

(photo by Jacques Paul)

(photo by Serge LeClair)

(photo by Michel Lacroix)

Close to 1.4 million people in Quebec and 230,000 in Ontario were without electricity. In some cases, people stayed without power for up to six weeks. It was the most destructive storm in Canadian history. This is a good article about it. Also, for some interesting photographs of a significant ice storm in Spokane, Washington in 1996, see this page.

Ice-encased sea of grass

Mike Hollingshead from Extreme Instability documented the ice storm that happened in December 2006 in Nebraska and parts of Kansas. With photographer's permission we reproduce some of the most impressive pictures of the aftermath of that storm.

(images credit: Mike Hollingshead)

The iconic image of ice-encased blade of grass is well-known. But here is what an ice storm can do with a grass field: turn it into a sea of ice.

(images credit: Mike Hollingshead)

(image credit: John Deerhake)

The picture above was taken outside the small town of LaFayette, Ohio. It was during a nasty ice storm in early 2005 that had left the whole northwest part of the state out of power for over a week.

Returning to the storm in Nebraska, here is some barb wire:

and a guiding wire to a pole - ice 2 inches thick!

(images credit: Mike Hollingshead)

(original unknown)

Want to fill up your car? You may be thwarted in your efforts. Here is the frozen control panel of a fuel pump:

and the pump handle:

(images credit: Brandon Hauff)

Strong winds and extreme cold combine to create ice sculptures

The following pictures were taken in Hungary, at Lake Balaton by an unknown photographer:

The conditions responsible for creating these icicles seem to be similar to the more famous extreme weather occasion on Lake Leman. In fact, these conditions happen throughout the region - the following picture was taken at a lake in central Italy, called Bolsena, in a windy area 100km north of Rome:

(image credit: MaxResolution)

Lake Leman has an icy touch

Technically, not an ice storm, but a very impressive accumulation of ice due to the high wind (gusting to 110 km/h) on Lake Leman near Geneva, Switzerland. This has happened 2 years ago and the pictures were widely seen on the internet, but they never fail to fascinate. See more photos here.

Here is the eye-witness account:
"The cold did not save sailing ships moored in the ports of Léman. In Geneva, several boats sank under the weight of the ice. Several minor roads were closed, passage having been made impossible by the ice and the snowdrifts. In downtown Geneva, Servette Street was closed after the rupture of a water pipeline transformed the roadway into a true skating rink."

(image credit: Jean-Pierre Scherrer )

(images credit: skyandsummit)

(image credit: Jean-Pierre Scherrer )

(images credit: skyandsummit)

(image credit: Jean-Pierre Scherrer )

The Frozen Flood

The ice encasing these unfortunate automobiles will melt, but the situation could've been much worse - like during the flood of Badger River in Newfoundland in 2003. All the flood water froze completely and the trapped cars were sitting in two-meters-deep ice for months:

(images credit: snn-rdr.ca)

Buried in snow is no fun, either

Granted, it's not as radical as power-killing ice storm, but extreme snowstorms can disrupt the normal life just as significantly:

After three snowstorms in Halifax, Canada, some cars disappear for good:

(image credit: photofiddler)

(image credit: Ruth & Dave)

When "The Flying Dutchman" becomes a frozen one

When you are at sea, exposed to storm weather elements, and then come to port - your buddies may not recognize the ship any more:

(original unknown)

The following picture may scare you into thinking about some horrendous ice storm, but it actually depicts a house after the fire-fighter's efforts to put out the fire:

Finally, to reconcile you with Mother Nature again, here is a nice picture of a frozen waterfall:


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Anonymous swan_pr said...

actually, for the Quebec ice storm, some areas of the province went without power for as long as six weeks... yes, SIX WEEKS... 100 000 people were evacuated. 16 000 soldiers were sent in for various tasks. 25 people died. yes... quite a storm. I was lucky, I was out of power for 4 days. And it seemed like weeks.

Blogger Joao said...

Incredible collection of ice storm photographs! The one I took in Atlanta was definitely an accident and it was quite exciting to wake up and see everything frozen over night...

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Strong winds and extreme cold combine to create ice sculptures"

These pictures were not taken in Serbia. These were taken in Hungary at Lake Balaton in the winter of 2005/06.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

These pictures are beautiful!

I live in Ontario, so ice storms are nothing new for me...but the artistic photos will remind me to not just see freezing rain as a nuisance, but to stop and take a look at the beauty it creates.

Thanks for another great post!

Blogger EdwinHuang said...

so cool ,very like your post!
thank you!

Blogger B. Durbin said...

I well remember the Spokane ice storm. On campus, there is a four story dorm that faces a bunch of tall trees, and the residents were cheering as the branches broke off. Why not? Nobody was walking down there, and it was probably the only entertainment they could get with the power out. I spent the evening in one of the few places with power— the Honors study house. It was quite a party.

The pictures I have from the day after are quite lovely but non-digital. Thank you for posting the link!

Anonymous Matt Ellsworth said...

Growing up in NY - we have had our fair share of ice storms - and they can be both scary as well as quite beautiful if you can get out and take some pictures.

Anonymous Dragonfly183 said...

These are really beautiful. we have a lot of ice storms in Arkansas as well but nothing that looks anything l

Blogger Avi Abrams said...

Thanks for all this info!

Blogger Eve said...

The photographs accompanying this post are nothing less than spectacular. Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi, I came here via stumble, and I just wanted to thank you for actually putting some effort into this post. Nearly every other click on the stumble button produces a blog entry showing extreme natural phenomena, but this one is the first and only that actually had interesting and helpful reference information and obvious thought put into the presentation. Thanks.

Anonymous raul said...

your pictures makes me cry...

Blogger tas38wolf said...

hi, I'm from Ontario and remember the ice storm really well... I managed to be able to stay in my home for the first week. After that I had to go to my folks house for a week and finally with a friend for the remainder. I was without power for 21 days. It's amazing how beautiful nature can be when at her most destructive. Everything was quiet, no sounds of cars or anything, just the sounds of the ice as branches moved in the wind and pieces fell. A truly awesome experience!

Blogger Avi Abrams said...

"Everything was quiet, no sounds of cars or anything, just the sounds of the ice as branches moved in the wind and pieces fell. "

Wow. I can easily imagine that. Still, 21 days without power is pretty hairy.

Blogger gumisiorek said...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live in New England, and Ice Storms are just a common part of life here. I remember a big Ice Storm back in '97 that knocked out power to around a million people. I was out of power for about a week, the entire state of Maine basically shut down.

They can be the most destructive of storms, but they can also be the most beautiful sights in the world. Watching the morning sun set afire a forest enshrouded in ice, with nothing but the sound of tinkling branches falling in the wind, is something you can't forget.


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