The weight of it all: New Year's Day ice and snow combo causes numerous problems

NOW: The weight of it all: New Year’s Day ice and snow combo causes numerous problems


Four days after ice and snow started off 2021 with a bang across Michiana, some are still waiting for power to be fully restored as of Monday night.

The unique combination of ice and snow made this round of winter weather particularly dangerous and impactful.

Tree branches and limbs were no match for the weight of the wintry mix.

The weekend's winter storm is an example of why meteorologists take freezing rain so seriously. It only takes a little bit to cause big problems. As little as 1/16th of an inch of ice can cause roadways and sidewalks to become slick. 

Most of Michiana saw between 0.1" and 0.25" of ice on New Year's Day. As little as 0.1" of ice can cause tree branches to fall, and 0.25" of ice can cause power outages.

A quarter of an inch of ice can cause power lines to drop 2 feet closer to the ground, and can add close to 250 pounds of weight to the lines.

The heavy snow that followed, while light on accumulation, more than made up for it with additional weight to trees and power lines. 

As temperatures approach the freezing mark (32 degrees Fahrenheit) the snow ratio gets closer to 5 to 1 (5" of snow for every inch of rain). Wet snow has more than DOUBLE the weight of regular snow and three to four times the weight of fluffy snow.

And, the ice that had already fallen acted as the perfect sticky platform for that heavy snow to attach to. In short, the little bit of ice and the little bit of snow made Michiana's impacts from the storm greater than may have been anticipated. 

Fortunately, the ice has mostly melted across Michiana. And while a dusting of snow is possible into Tuesday morning, the weather will be abnormally quiet for the next few weeks, with no major winter weather on our horizon.

After the extremely disruptive start to the weather year, I think most people will happily take that forecast. 

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