Ice a not-so-nice part of winter

Published 10:08 am Wednesday, January 12, 2011

It was great to wake up Monday morning and not discover a sparkling winter wonderland. Like many others, this writer’s household was concerned the winter storm bearing down on us would leave a glittering, beautiful but troublesome coating of ice that would send power lines crashing down and leave us in the dark (and the cold).

While a few households in the area did lose power, the vast majority did not. It seems we dodged another bullet, and for that we are grateful.

We aren’t accustomed to “real” winter weather in these parts, but it does seem as if ALDOT and city and county officials were doing their best to prepare for the worst and keep people safe and highways free of injuries and fatalities.

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Having lived in the Midwest for a decade of my life, I know full well how Mother Nature’s wintry wrath can unleash a regular Pandora’s box of woes, blanketing the landscape with heavy snows difficult to trudge through, making steps as slippery as glass and roadways downright treacherous. Not to mention the joys of snow shoveling, which inevitably leads to 911 calls annually as out-of-shape shovelers lose in a battle with heavy, wet snow.

And while front-wheel drive and four-wheel drive vehicles, snow tires, chains and the like can make traversing the white stuff much easier, I learned a long time ago ice is another matter altogether.

Driving on icy roads is like taking one’s life into one’s own hands.  There is a good reason why state and local officials tell us to stay off the roads when such a weather event is approaching.

It isn’t just what you can see that is the problem—it’s what you don’t see: the frozen layer beneath the sand, the patches of invisible black ice you don’t know are there until it’s too late and your vehicle is spinning out of control.

Weather systems are tricky things. It was hard to forecast just how much of the frozen stuff we would get, but trust me, even a small amount of ice can cause big problems.

So, while some may have felt all the closures and the warnings were “much ado about nothing,” this local girl who has seen the other side of the issue says, “Better safe than sorry.”

Missed days can be made up; lost lives can’t.