Friday, January 1, 2016

I Was Afraid of This

I was sitting at the table having lunch the day after a sleety storm. Boom. Thud. Shudder.

It was the sound of a dull explosion a few blocks away. Again. Another deep boom. It happened several more times and I looked outside, a little alarmed, to see if tanks or military vehicles were passing by lobbing explosives.

This is what I saw.

Chunks of ice had slid off the roof and littered the front walk. I was afraid this would happen.

Our solar panels are on the front of the house, directly over the front door. A thin coating of ice and sleet barely covers the lawn, but adheres in a solid coating to the panels. When it warms just enough, the coating slips off.

The reason the panels are on the front of the house is that the house has a full southern exposure, and gets unobstructed sunshine full on. But it's oddly just angled away a fraction, and the slope is just shallow enough that ice and snow stay up there and don't melt, even when all over town similar solar installations are clear the day after a snowstorm.

After this minimal bit of ice from a minor storm, everyone's panels were clear but ours. The incredible deep booming sound came from ice slipping off those six lowest panels. If the rest loosen there will be more thudding booms. It's hard to believe what a thunderous sound the falling ice makes.

The worst of it is that the icy debris lands on the front walk and needs to be cleared. Ugh. A shovel won't do, it has to be scraped up.

And the very worst of it is that my benighted weeping Japanese maple is right under the front eaves. It got clobbered. At least the dense Alberta spruce in the corner is tucked away out of the path of destruction. Icy landslides would certainly maim that stiff little tree.

Twigs of the Japanese maple, with lacy leaves still attached, were simply sheared off and littered the ground.

It will be interesting to see how the tree looks next spring after this kind of pruning approach. I can live with twigs being shorn -- it's an overly twiggy, branchy tree anyway. But I don't want icefalls to break the trunk in half or lop off whole branches, and it's in serious danger of that happening.

I was afraid of this from the beginning. I knew putting solar panels smack over the front door was not ideal. But it never happened all last winter. We had so much snow last year, but never had ice chunks fall off.

This year we're getting ice slides, at least on this one occasion. The shuddering booms are startling. The debris is troublesome to clean up and tree damage is worrisome. Not to mention the possibility of injuring the UPS guy when he comes up the walk.

And, most annoying of all, I knew this could happen.

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