January is nearly over and so far we haven’t had much weather that would tell you it is winter. You can be sure that we will be getting some of that freezing rain, sleet, and even some snow. The question that needs to be answered is: Are You Prepared For Winter Weather? What are some of the problems winter weather drops on us?

Black Ice | Image by weather.gov

Ice storms can cause even more trouble than a snow storm because the roads can be covered in Black Ice and you can’t see it until you are slipping and sliding all over the road. As we all know the bridges and overpasses along with steep hills usually freeze first and can make driving on them feel more like the bumper car ride at a carnival.

Ice Storm Preparations | Image by weather.gov

I’s not only the roads that ice can adhere to, but buildings, trees, and power lines. What will save a lot of concern is preparation before the storm hits. You should pay attention to the weather forecast and be aware of the intrusion of colder air that it takes to produce an Ice Storm.

What To Do When The Power Failure Strikes | Image by weather.gov

When an ice storm hits it can also produce enough ice to take out major power lines covering a large area and smaller neighborhood power supplies. Under normal circumstances we often take for granted the electrical appliances, the furnace, computers and even simple light bulbs that function without any effort on our part. When the power does fail we suddenly realize how much we depend on them. We all need to be able to keep ourselves safe and warm until the power is restored.

Let’s go back in time to 2016 when we had a big storm hit the Eugene-Springfeld area. The following is part of the column I wrote then to explain what happened to me and all of the people in our area.

The beginning of the storm produced rain and as the temperatures fell the ground and other surfaces were cooled to freezing (32 degrees F) or below and produced what is called freezing rain. The rain was not frozen, but it froze when it fell on the colder surface.

Ice On Trees
Ice On Trees 12.15.16 #4 | Photo by Tim Chuey

It didn’t take long for branches and even whole trees to start falling down. From my house we could hear explosions which were power transformers blowing out. One of the booms sounded much closer and our power went out, then it came back up for a few seconds when we hear the second boom and the lights go about again.  I was told by EWEB employees years ago during a more minor more localized neighborhood blackout that the system tries to reroute the line and that’s when our power came back on. If it doesn’t take it will try a second time. Back then I was told that after three tries at the most if the good line can’t be established the power shuts down automatically until the line is physically repaired. At least that is my recollection of what I was told.

It was about 6:50 PM on Wednesday 12.15.16 when our power went out as we were getting ready to watch Jeopardy. I got out the flashlights and put an oil lamp on the coffee table. It was already getting pretty dark so it didn’t take long for the temperature in the house to fall to what would be called chilly and that was closely followed by “it’s getting too cold in here.” We have a decorative fireplace in the living room that won’t heat the house, but it does help keep the temperature at a more livable level while still quite chilly.

Our Fireplace
Our Fireplace And Only Source Of Heat | Photo by Suzanne Chuey

My first step was to get one of those starter logs going because they start burning quickly. It seemed to at least slow down the cooling process in the living room. We waited for a while to see if the power would come back before I started a “real” fire. I then went to the woodpile outside and started collecting split firewood I have stacked there.  It didn’t take very long to have a roaring fire, but as I said it didn’t generate enough heat so we started putting on more layers of clothing topping it off with the heaviest winter jackets we have, gloves and all.

If you have ever been in a situation like this where the only connection you have with the outside world is your cell phone that has a battery that will only last so long without being recharged. That also means that your sense of time gets out of whack.

Tree Down In My Yard
Fallen Tree In My Side Yard Facing Neighbor’s House | Photo by Tim Chuey

Suddenly we heard a loud thud or bang. I looked out of all of our windows and couldn’t see much. The streetlights were out so that meant it was starting to get pretty dark out there. I saw something, but I couldn’t make out what it was. I opened the front door and stepped out onto our front brick steps.

Street View Of Downed Tree
Downed Tree From Street View Of My Front Yard | Photo by Tim Chuey

Then I saw it. A tree had come down between my house and my neighbor next door’s house and it was sticking out past the middle of the street. At first I thought it was one of his trees or from the neighbor’s yard behind me, but no the tree was in my side yard and took out part of the fence between our two yards.

What can I do now? That was the question that exploded in my head. My physical condition makes it impossible for me to cut up the tree myself and I can’t afford to pay someone to do it for me. That is a serious problem. There was nothing that could be done Wednesday night so It would have to wait until Thursday. We didn’t sleep very well because the house was still quite cold and my wife and I both need CPAP machines for Sleep Apnea. Without the pressure of the air pumped through the machine I kept waking up with the feeling of choking and that is what was really happening to me. After a restless night and not being able to get a good night’s rest  getting through Thursday was going to be quite a chore. The day did seem to last forever.

For me it takes a hot shower in the morning to shake off the cobwebs of sleep. No such luck. There was probably some hot water in the hot water tank, but I doubt enough for a shower in the dark with only flashlights for illumination. I started to wonder, but not out loud what else can happen?

We were trying all of this time to listen to local radio stations, mainly KKNX AM/FM for whom I forecast the weather Monday through Friday. They were off the air due to power problems at their tower. They were streaming live on the web, but with no power I had no chance to listen on my computer. The power failure also meant that I could not post my forecasts on my website timchueyweather4u.com, eugenedailynews.com, or send my audio forecasts to KKNX Radio FM105.1/ AM 840 HD. (Now KEED AM & FM also.)

KKNX Radio Logo
KKNX Radio Logo | Image by radio84.com

My power was restored at 4:30 PM Thursday and my wife and I immediately plugged in our cell phones to get them charged and I started working on my weather forecasts since was so far behind in getting them posted. After having all of this happen and remembering all of the other emergencies and disasters we have been through there is an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for the simplest thing like walking into another room and flipping the light switch and having the room actually light up. It’s a matter of being grateful for what you have.

Let me know what you would like me to talk about or explain. You can comment below or email me at: tim.chuey@eugenedailynews.com.