You may have heard about the winter storm
blanketing the Midwest today. Today I enjoyed more then my fair share of slippery ecchh.
The real issue today was freezing rain, which is normal enough. This afternoon I had to run an emergency service call in Dayton. We'd had freezing rain last night, and we got another dose not long after I started troubleshooting a fire alarm panel which had lost time thanks to what appeared to be a power problem, probably related to the previous night's bout of freezing rain. I went out to my truck and got tools and discovered the new rain. So I moved carefully up to the door, but there was a bit of an incline and I promptly fell on my ass. Fortunately, my bottom is well padded. Later I began the 60 mile trek home, at what I thought a prudently reduced speed.
Naturally my boss chose a construction zone to call me and quiz me on the day's work While talking to him I moved slightly left to evade a Cadillac which had inexplicably pulled off to the right. When my rear end began swinging I realized why he'd stopped. Let me suggest to you all that trying to hold a conversation and regaining control of a penduluming vehicle is a bit interesting, which is why I dropped my cell an drove.
Spins begin when a vehicle loses traction on it's rear wheels, which perform the important function of keeping a car in line (There's a real reason why three-wheeled cars never caught on, for more info see Jeremy Clarkson driving a Reliant Robin). To recover from a spin you steer into the direction of the skid, but the important thing to do is turn the wheel gently, and ease of the throttle gently. Pushing on the brakes transfers weight onto the front wheels, which just worsens the problem in the rear. So don't do it.
At most racing schools they teach you to see-saw your wheel back and forth when you lose your rear end. The reason for this is because sooner or later the rears will grab and send you the other way. And so it came to pass. For about a quarter mile I found myself steering first one way and then the other until I could anticipate the next swing and finally brought it under control. My boss was mad at me for ignoring him until I told him I had just avoided spinning the truck. Hearing I was close to wrecking his truck made him decide he really didn't need to know that bad. And I decided that perhaps my prudent speed perhaps was not quite so prudent as I thought.
Upon arriving home I then attempted to climb my driveway, which slopes uphill very gently. I live on a main street which was well treated, but I could see my driveway was icy and I didn't want to carry too much speed lest I find myself unable to stop and ram my work van into my minvan. Couldn't make it. I nearly got to the flat spot when I ran out of traction. Then I found myself sliding backward towards a busy street. Found a merely wet spot about a foot before I slid back into the street. Gave it three tries then quit. My work van is now parked with it's ass end on the sidewalk. I'll worry about it tomorrow.
Then about 10:30 local time I heard a a buzzing noise outside and my office window glowed orange. It was a power line, flaming like the flame beneath a witch's cauldron in the middle of the intersection. And so I learned another lesson. When you can see a power line down, don't call the power company. They'll put you into their automated outage reporting system which is not equipped to deal with people who have power, but can see a power line blazing within plain sight. Call 911 instead. That way you won't waste precious seconds before you realize they can't help you and hang up anyway.
On the plus side the line trucks were on site within thirty minutes, which is quick response by any standard. Granted the power is still out across the street, but I'm happy to be inside, warm and well lit. My cats too. Here's hoping we stay that way.
So this is what our winter storm looks like from Central Ohio. In the distance I can hear sirens. Frankly, I'd much rather have watched the whole thing on TV.
UPDATE 3:30 A.M. February 2. It's very wierd to listen a constant symphony of small branches or icicles breaking, and ice sheets working loose and sliding off my roof. Very wierd.