Friday, January 3, 2014

The ice storm of 2013 ~ what an experience! #OnStorm #IceStorm2013

I'd been watching the weather for a week or so leading up to the storm. It was looking like we were due for some snow and the kids were super excited. But as the days went by the chance of snow decreased and it looked like we were in for some freezing rain instead. So I guess no tobogganing yet. As the weekend approached the freezing rain forecast was looking extra gloomy with lots of weather warnings and the recommendation to stay indoors and avoid travel if at all possible. This was disappointing because our family had all planned to gather at my Aunts house Saturday evening for a nice dinner. We didn't want to miss the dinner but didn't want to risk driving in freezing rain. In the end we decided to go since the worst of the storm wouldn't hit til we were back home.

We enjoyed a wonderful dinner with the family and headed home. The roads weren't bad yet but a lot of street and traffic lights were already out. Almost the entire stretch of 410 going north was dark and the traffic lights coming off the off ramp were out. Traffic lights out - 4 way stop right? Guess not. We were almost t-boned by a driver that thought he could just drive straight through! Some people just have no sense.

When we turned onto our street the branches of the beautiful mature trees were already weighed down by the ice accumulating on them and were almost touching the road below making it difficult to get through to our house. I knew that by morning it was really going to be a mess. And it was, worse than I could even imagine.

The morning brought both beauty and destruction. We took the kids for a walk after lunch to take a look around. I took a couple hundred pictures but thought I'd just share a few with you.

 The ice looked beautiful on the trees and bushes. They all looked like crystal ornaments.
 Birch trees all over were hit really hard.
 Looked to me like a hurricane had hit.

This tree was a biggie! I wonder if anyone saw it fall. 

The storm also brought with it massive power outages. Hundreds of thousands were without power. Surprisingly, our house never lost power, while neighbourhoods surrounding us were without power for up to 5 days. My dad was without power for almost 7 days when it was finally restored. My sister, her husband and their daughter were without power as well for a few days, they got it back just to have a transformer blow the next street over and lose it again. 

We also experienced what is apparently called a 'frost quake'. Going to bed one night we heard a loud bang that sounded like something large hitting the roof. Everyone wondered what on earth caused it. News reports a couple days later explained the mystery. Usually occurring after an ice storm, a frost quake is caused when water in the surrounding soil and rocks freezes. The freezing water expands, putting pressure on the dirt and rocks.  When the build-up of pressure is too much, the dirt or rocks will crack, and this was the loud boom we heard. Some homes even felt a shake.

Now, two weeks later, power is back and most of the ice has melted, but the clean up will take quite some time i'm sure. Large piles of branches still line the streets waiting for the city to come and collect them I guess. I think I read it's been about 40 years since the GTA had an ice storm like this. It will certainly remain a lasting memory for our family. What an experience! 


  1. We experienced this once living in Topeka,KS winter 2005. It was absolutelly grogeous outside with blue sky and sun and every branch was full of frozen ice. I know it can do a lot of damage too which looks like did in your area, but it does not happen often and looks like kids enjoyed it =)

  2. On the bright side a little extra time with family was nice.

  3. Awe inspiring what Mother Nature can do. I am glad you made it home safely.

  4. You're right ... Some of those pictures are absolutely beautiful, yet so much ice damage, as well. Thanks for posting these.

  5. We didn't get it near as bad in Hamilton. Glad you are all safe though.


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