December 29-31, 2006 Severe Ice Storm

Well it is morning now and I'm about to head home(after chasing the snowy side of the storm). It was amazing how clear and sunny it was here while it was snowing heavily back home 3 hours east. To this point I had no idea how bad the ice storm was just a bit further east. I was just figuring some ice coated trees to take pictures of. I was about to be shocked at what mother nature could do with a bit of freezing rain.

As I left I had a problem with the drivers side wiper squirter. I get out of the truck to clean it off and my feet fly out from under me. I was on my way down HARD. I reached to my side with my right hand to grab the truck. Well my hand lands right in an open area near the windshield, between it and the hood. It was just enough to grab. I just grabbed and held, about yanking my arm out of its socket. I was pleasantly surprised that my ass stopped about 2-3 inches above the pavement. I streched some tendons in my arm or something as it still feels kind of dead, half achy but not sore, 4 days later. After it happend I wasn't sure it would have been better than just hitting on my butt. It was so funny though at the time, since I was going straight down that fast and stopped that close at the last second thanks to being able to hold that one area of the truck.

There were cars EVERYWHERE east of Cozad. I finally got tired of taking picures of them. That and it was getting slicker and slicker as I moved east.

As I got further east the scene became very amazing. You could tell it was getting thicker from the interstate, but I had no idea it was this thick till I pulled over at this rest stop just west of Kearney.You can see the trunk coated in ice and how it cracked the ice as it started to be bent over.

This was pretty interesting. I was walking on this thinking the area was filled with gravel and that was how this formed like this. Then I thought, no, surely there is grass under this. You could walk right on top of this like it was concrete. I finally kicked down through it to see. Sure enough, this was above the grass. I guess smaller pieces would fall from the trees then get coated larger, and round. There was just enough snow falling after the fact to cover up the thick ice below.

No worries today I don't think!

Still at the rest stop. It was rather fun walking through this tall grass.

Now when you look at this pole there is one thing you can't tell. It is just about that thick on the side facing the camerea.

I pulled off at the Shelton exit and headed south towards Kenesaw. It started to be more apparent just how big of a mess this might be. I was finding poles snapped off in several locations.

This is barb wire....

Amazingly coated with ice.

The landscape was more and more strange the more one saw of it.

Just look at the tall pieces of grass.

Classic! Note the expiration date.

"EXP. Jan. 2007

Are you StormReady!"

(It expires the day after the photo lol)

I drove back out new years day to survey the area a little better. It wasn't too bad in Hastings, but as I drove west of there on highway 6 it got nasty. This was largely the norm out there. Pole after pole after pole....down. On and on from just west of Hastings to at least Holdrege. Exceptions were locations where they had some block from wind, or where they ran north-south. That is a massive area and I can't imagine how many poles that comes to or how long it will take to fix them all. This shot was southeast of Kearney just south of I80.

The little electric fencing poles were no match for the heavy icing.

I saw this while driving along more damanged poles. Chopped the top right off.

More freaky pieces of taller grass.

A stop sign. That is just crazy. Just look how thick it is on the back of the round part of the sign.

It is pretty wild that this can happen like this.

I have no idea what the hell was burning down there. This was near Minden looking sw.

EDIT: I guess this was a house fire about 6 miles southwest of Minden.

Sun dog.

If it was an east-west line and was at all in the open it was usually like this.

Major transmission lines down just south of Keaney. These are large and are metal. They continued on all screwed up down that road.

Some of these scenes along the tracks looked so cool. It's pretty much impossible to shoot icy scenes into the sun and get them to look like they did in person. Hmmm, HDR might have been interesting on this(high dynamic range imaging).

This is the guide wire to a pole with a good 2 inches of ice on it.

I finally found these....a bit late. I'm zoomed way in from the highway north of Minden. Anything that wasn't a main highway was obviously covered in ice. I had 4 wheel drive and didn't mess with them too much. Those are the major transmission lines, crumpled like they were toys. This wasn't just happening in southern NE but southwest KS as well. What a historic storm. The dollar figure on this one will certainly be in the 10s of millions....or most likely 100s of millions. It was much more widespead than simply Nebraska. I'd say areas of Colorado, Kansas, and Nebraska will all be declared disaster areas, if they haven't already.