How much ice does it take to down tree branches/power lines?

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How much ice does it take to down tree branches/power lines?

#1 Postby Nate-Gillson » Sun Jan 09, 2005 7:18 pm

I know that just a little bit of ice will cause very slick roads, but I wonder how much ice does it take to down tree branches and/or power lines? I live in Cedar Rapids, Iowa which hasn't had a major ice storm since December 1994.

PS: I loathe ice storms.

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#2 Postby aggiecutter » Sun Jan 09, 2005 7:54 pm

a quarter to a half inch of ice can cause a lot of damage. In December of 2000, parts of NE Texas and SW Arkansas, I live in Texarkana which is on the border of NE Texas and SW Arkanas, had upto one inch of ice on trees and powerlines. Parts of this area was without power for 2 weeks. President Clinton declared this part of the country a disaster area. It was devastating to say the least.

Here's a pic from the ice storm via the Shreveport National Weather Service Office...


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#3 Postby JQ Public » Sun Jan 09, 2005 11:41 pm

Usually the ground isn't cold enough to get the rain to freeze on it so the main concern will be trees. We also experienced an icestorm in dec 2002 that devastated most of NCanything more than .25" can really do damage. Sometimes trees are pretty strong, but they all have dead branches which are easily affected by stress.

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#4 Postby W13 » Sun Jan 09, 2005 11:53 pm

We got upwards of 0.50" of freezing rain last winter, right after a big snowstorm that dumped 5-10" on us. The next morning everything was glazed over by a half inch or more of thick ice. We couldn't even open 0our truck, it was frozen shut completely.

We also had tons of trees and power lines fall throughout the area. That is the only ice storm that i can recall that has occured in my general area the last five years or so, so I would guess than even 0.10-0.20" could bring down plenty of trees and power lines.

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#5 Postby JenyEliza » Mon Jan 10, 2005 12:04 am

January 2000, we had an ice storm that left (I believe) about .5 inch to .75 inch of ice on trees, powerlines, roads, etc.

The rather large 75 ft tall pines surrounding our house couldn't take the extra weight, and two trees snapped in half--landing on the roof of our house at 3 am (while we were sleeping). We were without power for 3 days, without a complete roof until May 2000 (took months to negotiate with insurance and contractors to get repairs done).

So...if you have large pines, just know that they don't much care for being coated in ice. They snap and they land on whatever happens to be in the way.

If you've got one coming, might want to prepare for being without power and get provisions lined up (ie, firewood, propane for grill, batteries for flashlights, food to cook on the grill, etc etc).

We were caught totally off guard and we had made NO preparations for that storm.


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#6 Postby slartibartfast » Mon Jan 10, 2005 5:15 am

Ahh the joy of icestorms, there are a lot of variables to consider in predicting the amount of ice that will bring down tree and power lines and one of the most important is where you live and the frequency with which freezing rain falls in your area. As an example in my part of the world (Ottawa valley in eastern ontario) freezing rain is common (so far this winter 45 hrs of it 7 events) and it takes a lot of ice accreation to bring down more than a few small branches, in fact so far we have had 2 icing events that deposited close to 15 mm of ice yet there where no power failures due to falling branches as a rule i don't get concerned until the ice build up to an inch or so as historicaly that is what is required to cause major power outages. Thankfully these storms are fairly rare and only occur every 5-10 years in my neck of the woods. Generally native trees are adapted in any given region to suffer little damage in all but the most severe and infreaquent storms. Of course we mess with this a bit by planting non native species and certain trees particularily fast growing ones like willow and silver maple do break quite easily.
Somtimes truly rare events like ice storm of 1998 in eastern canada and the northeast (thankfully only occurring on timescales of 100 years or more) can completly overwealm all but the strongest trees and take down power lines by the sheer weight of ice on the wires and the 1998 storm took out the power in almost the entire region and left some in the dark for several weeks with ice buildup of 7-12 cm throughout and it has left it's mark in the forests around here that will be visable for generations.

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#7 Postby carve » Mon Jan 10, 2005 7:10 am

We just had an ice storm christmas!! We had at least a 1/2 inch of ice..Never saw so many trees and branches down in my life.Thousands were without power. I live in ohio and we have had 2 ice storms already.I just have a feeling it isn't over yet!

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#8 Postby therock1811 » Mon Jan 10, 2005 9:36 am

Anything over 1/4". I know, PD2 was a huge ice storm here and we had up to 3" ice in some areas of KY.

Where exactly in Ohio are you carve? I'd imagine you're out toward Huntington, WV...I'm near Cincinnati and we got mainly snow from that storm.

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