Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary Rotating Header Image

October 11th, 2009:

More Icy Adventures


Maybe this weather is a fluke, and as one who’s read The Little Ice Age more than once, I certainly hope that it’s a fluke, but it would be no more than a fluke save for one inconvenient truth: Carol had to be on a plane to Chicago this morning at 8:30 AM. In normal October weather, we would simply have set the clock radio for 4:30 AM and gone down the hill early. After yesterday’s lesson in automotive ice skating, we changed plans.

I figured that by 4:00 yesterday afternoon, enough cars would have gone down Broadmoor Bluffs to melt the black ice, so we reserved a room for Carol at the Homewood Suites on Powers and set out. People were being very careful after seeing news reports of Interstate crowd-scene crackups, and I was right: We felt no ice on the trip down, nor any on the roads eastward toward the Colorado Springs airport. Normal caution was sufficient, and the usual nutcases either stayed at home or were already in a ditch somewhere.

We checked her in about 4:45, and I hung out with her awhile, but then about 5:30 we noticed that it had begun sleeting again after a five-hour respite. So after a few goodbye kisses she shooed me home. Alas, I had waited a little too long. There was plenty of water on the streets already, and with new sleet and failing light added to the mix, things started to freeze and get ugly again. There was a minutes-old serious injury accident at Powers and Proby, and as the police waved us carefully past the scene, I saw a mashed-up Jeep Liberty lying on its roof, with the fire department trying to cut some poor guy out of it, and a nondescript minivan with one whole side caved in and two people on stretchers with paramedics bending over them. One’s leg was exposed, and it was bloody.

We were being careful, but there’s only so much you can do. As they taught us in driver’s ed 42 years ago, bridges freeze first. Academy Boulevard at its southeast corner is more Interstate than boulevard, and it has numerous bridges. At the bridge over the BNSF tracks I felt the 4Runner start to slither, but fortunately there wasn’t the usual crowd sharing the road. I saw the sedan in front of me swing a little to one side, but then he cleared the bridge and recovered. I coasted the rest of the way to solid asphalt, heart in my throat, and kept going. I felt some slippage again on the bridge over 115, but the city had put down some sand and nobody had any serious trouble. That was not true elsewhere in the city.

The sleet continued long after I went to bed. I got up to potty Dash at 2 ayem and it was still coming down, by then more snow than sleet. The light fixture on our back deck bore what looked like a half-inch coating of solid ice. At 7 this morning morning it was still overcast, but nothing was coming down. However, the driveway is now a sheet of ice, and when Carol called me from the airport a little while ago to say she was about to board, she made my intuition imperative: I was to keep my butt inside the house today until we had at least two hours of sunshine to melt things out a little. No argument there.

Currently (at 8:45 AM) there’s no indication of the clouds breaking up. The newly-golden leaves of the scrub oaks in back are coated with ice, and we lost some branches. I am clearly not going to church this morning. I pity the poor squirrels: I can see pieces of pine cone stuck in the ice out on the deck, but they’ll need jackhammers to free them up. Hurry sunshine!