My one-and-only ice storm . . . up ’til then

ice storm resultsI was reading a novel the other day which included an ice storm in its plot. Now, I essentially spent my first 20 years growing up in Salt Lake City, Utah, so I’ve had plenty of opportunities to experience snow and ice as well as Utah’s deep “powder” at places like Alta, Snowbird, Brighton and Park City … but up to now I’ve only been in one ice storm [such as the one pictured at right]:

I’ve forgotten the year, but back in the 1980s when I was working in the Polynesian Cultural Center’s Sales and Marketing office in Waikiki, I was sent in March on an American Airlines travel consumer show to Raleigh, North Carolina. The long flight into Raleigh had actually been delayed several days by a very bad storm, and ours was the first allowed to land one very foggy morning. Much to my surprise, everything was heavily covered with ice, as in the picture at the right. I mean, as I drove out of the airport in my rental car I  saw an inch or more of clear ice sealing in cars, power lines, signs, and so forth. In fact, lots of power lines had succumbed to the extra weight of the ice, likewise tree limbs had snapped off under the extra burden.

It was quite fascinating to me. But then, after just a little while, a more interesting aspect of the ice storm started…

The wind picked up and the weather began to clear quickly. Within a half-hour or so the fog was nearly gone and the sun was breaking through. Then — BAM! — an “ice bomb” fell out of the overhanging trees and pinged off my rental car, as the wind and warmth started to loosen the residue of the storm. BAM! BAM! Some of the “bombs” were big. I began to worry the car would be damaged; indeed, some cars by the side of the road already had broken windows and dings. It was all quite new and different to me, and I can’t say I enjoyed the experience.

By the next day, a Saturday, the weather for the travel show was warming and a lot nicer. All the ice had fallen and/or melted . . . and by Sunday Raleigh was enjoying a very pleasant, practically balmy early Spring day with clear skies and not a sign of the storm left . . . which made it just that much easier to enjoy the superlative Southern-style baby-back ribs some of us ate for dinner after the show. I haven’t been back to Raleigh since, but I can’t forget the ice storm.

By the way, in the 45 years I’ve now lived in Laie and other tropical places, I also haven’t missed winter snow and ice once.

— Story and photo by Mike Foley: Originally published November 19, 2009.
I ‘ve since experienced an ice storm in January 2012 while serving as a senior
Mormon missionary in Tacoma, Washington (see photo above)


  1. Ice storms seem to like the southeast, where the precip is warm enough to stay liquid in the clouds, but the air at the surface is cold enough to freeze it. I don’t think we saw any ice when we lived in Utah, but have had at least one each year we’ve been in Texas.

    Despite the threat of floods and hurricanes, I think I’d rather be back in Laie, too.

  2. Janice Foley says:

    I have an ice storm story too. When we were living in Oklahoma Larry went to Minnesota for a conference and my Mom came to keep me and the kids company. We woke up one morning to a fairyland, everything covered with a thick coating of ice. It was beautiful but oh so bad to be out in. I decided to drive to the store and as I tried to go up a hill there were about 5 cars sliding back down the hill toward me. Needless to say I went back home and didn’t venture out for a couple of days.

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