ice storm of '22
Friday, February 4 2022
When I awoke this morning, I was aware of the frequent sounds of something similar to gunfire outside. And when I got up and looked outside, I realized this was due to a powerful ice storm that had arrived overnight. There was no wind and not much visible precipitation, but ice had formed a quarter-inch thick on every exposed surface, and branches and occasionally whole trees were collapsing under the weight. We still had power, but it had failed at some point and seemed likely to fail again. I started up Woodchuck, my main computer, which, for reasons I don't understand had somehow managed to get around my multi-technique means of preventing it from updating its installation of Windows 10 Enterprise. This caused it to update, something I never want to spend any time waiting for a computer to do. And of course it picked this morning, when power would fail any moment, to do it. Power did indeed fail, but only momentarily, and then of course Woodchuck started complaining about how my license would be expiring soon. Jesus Christ, Microsoft, READ THE ROOM! So I ended up spending what little time I had with working household power doing the stupid (but very easy to do) things one must do to fool a Windows 10 operating system into thinking it has a valid license. And then the power failed completely at about 8:30am.
Of course at that point my phone's Teams application became helplessly confused by the fact that my login was now via a different email (the last time I'd used Teams on my phone, it had been with my old email address, the one whose domain had recently been sold to another company, forcing me to be given a new one). After I restarted my phone, I could once more communicate with my colleagues in Boston. I told them there was a terrible icestorm under way and that I had lost power and that a meeting about specifically about devOps stuff should be postponed until Monday. And with that, I had basically taken a snow day.
I spent much of the rest of the day on the couch in the living room in front of a roaring fire in the woodstove. It's actually fairly rare for us to have a power outage in the winter, but in this case it was very good we happened to have an alternative form of heat not reliant on electricity.
Whenever there is a power outage, we always check the Central Hudson outage map to see if our outage is on it, how many other outages there are, and when it is expected that our outage will end. Today, we appeared to be in a couple overlapping outages, suggesting more than one thing would have to be fixed in order for our power to come back on. And there were many other outages spread all over the entire region served by Central Hudson. I'd never seen the map so crowded with symbols representing so many outages at so many different scales. At some point it was said on our particular outage that it would be repaired by 8:00pm on Saturday, but it was difficult to imagine a workforce large enough to be able to get to us in such a respectably timely manner.
Meanwhile the annoying guy from the Brewster Street house in Kingston wrote to Gretchen asking what should be done given that he was having a power outage there. He asked specifically about the pipes, though I had my doubts his outage would last long enough for temperatures in his house to drop below freezing.
Later evening, Gretchen asked the other tenants of the other houses if they had power. Downs Street had never lost power at all (in fact, a nearby church named Iglesia La Mision was serving as a "warming center," a term I found humorous enough to keep bringing up, to Gretchen's eventual annoyance). The Wall Street house did lose power, but only for a couple of hours. And just as we began to worry about the pipes freezing at Brewster Street (and the non-annoying tenant had just borrowed a kerosene heater), the power came back on there. So by the time we went to sleep (which, tonight, was very early) the only house we had to worry about was our own. But with out woodstove, we'd be able to survive a power outage indefinitely. Flushing toilets would eventually prove difficult, but I could always carry water up from the greenhouse if necessary.
But back before dark, Gretchen and I went on a walk down the Farm Road past the farm some distance and then came back. The dogs haven't been walking much with Gretchen, but with both of us walking, the joined us somewhat enthusiastically. We had to be a little careful not to linger long under overburdened trees, and at one point a small amount of ice crashed to the ground in front of Neville. But we managed to enjoy the ongoing ice storm without injury to any of us. Despite the evident trauma to the trees, it really was a beautiful spectacle to see glazing on every surface, weighing it all down to make trees look like giants standing around in hoodies.
The ice storm as seen along the Farm Road today. Click to enlarge.
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