Friday, August 29, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Snow, ice, trees, and power lines

The dark side of a magical spectacle.

Snow, ice, trees, and power lines

In years of observing, we can’t recall seeing anything quite like the quantity and tenacity of the snow that has glommed brilliantly onto the region’s trees.

Driving around what came to mind was Dylan Thomas’s evocative description in “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” of how the snow “swam and drifted out of the arms and hands and bodies of the trees.”

Magical? Yes … and dangerous.

Despite daylong sun, the snow has been hanging tough on the tree limbs, and while we are grateful for the calendar-worthy spectacle, overnight we might discover its dark side.

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After what is looking more and more like less and less of a snowfall, in otherwise problematical forecast, significant amounts of rain are almost a certainty.

A period of freezing rain is expected throughout the region after the change-over. Of course, the more-difficult and important question is how long the freezing rain will last and how much ice will accumulate.

Areas north and west of the city that have a dense snowpack could see a prolonged icing surface temperatures are going to have a hard time nudging nudge above freezing.

Any ice that bonds onto the snows on the tree limbs is going to add additional weight, notes PECO’s Greg Smore.

But plain, old liquid rain also might pose a hazard: If the snow manages to catch and retain some of the liquid, that also would add weight that could bring down limbs that knock out power lines.

Sleet is far preferable to freezing rain because sleet balls tend to bounced off, rather than attach to, objects.

But at least some freezing rain appears inevitable almost everywhere in the region with this storm.

We suspect that PECO crews are going to have a busy day tomorrow.

Tony Wood Inquirer Weather Columnist
About this blog

Everyone talks about the weather, and here we write about it.

When we’re around and conditions warrant, we’ll keep you updated about what’s coming, but we will do our best always to discuss weather and climate developments in context and remind you that nothing in the atmosphere happens in a vacuum.

Tony Wood has been writing about the atmosphere for The Inquirer for 26 years.

Reach Tony at

Tony Wood Inquirer Weather Columnist
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