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By: joealaska , 4:16 AM GMT on January 18, 2012

Our Friday boat was late. Pretty common right now. It normally starts unloading at 7 AM Friday. Today it would be 9 PM. Weather had delayed the arrival.

We would get our first containers around midnight, and the last around 4 AM. And one of our customers made it clear they were waiting for our freight to leave. They knew the boat was late, and were OK with that. But they wanted that freight.

I volunteered a couple of our guys to arrive at 4:30 AM. The wind was blowing and sleet was going (on). I was up at 4AM dealing with the phones.

Something happened, as usual. That boat was still here at 6 PM. It was unexpected, but it turns up we were up too early...

Recently everyone was removing snow. Big piles everywhere. Even today I saw front loaders taking it away. But it is melting. Temps around 38 the last few days. Hold off on the snow removal, it will be water in a couple days. But the thinking is what if another storm hits...

The roads are fine. But our freight yard is a huge plate of ice. And wet. As well as my driveway.

One of my employees fell three times as he walked through the yard to his home 5 minutes up the hill. When I drove through the yard, I did not notice I was in a full slide sideways until it was too late. I was going 5 mph. And the result was nothing. It is a big yard.

But driving into my driveway was a bit more troublesome. The last 100 feet are uphill. And I have to slow down at the beginning, at the curve. It is a challenge to turn into my driveway. Just as I arrive, I start to lose traction. I got stuck in a simple area. Just wet ice. I was halfway in the road. It took a few minutes of micro-positioning to get up into my driveway. Back and forth a bunch.

There is a decent amount of falling ice coming off all the roofs here. Especially the metal roofs.
Each roof has metal ridges going up and down the entire surface. Ice forms, and eventually melts. Usually the sun comes out and warms that metal roof just a bit. The ice thaws and releases from the roof. Then it slides down and off. Sometimes it is a chunk at a time, sometime it is a 30 foot ribbon of ice all at once. And SOMETIMES the vibration starts the whole mess dropping at once. I have to wonder if anybody has gotten hurt, or worse. Yesterday I walked in
to the car repair place. I had to step over a pile of ice chunks that were all along the front of the building. BIG chunks. I would guess some were 20 or 25 LBS. They fell from a roof 20 feet above. My buddy inside said they all fell at once. I have experienced that noise at our warehouse. It is a roar that lasts about 15-20 seconds.

There are signs posted on a few buildings around town...BEWARE OF FALLING ICE. Most of the time, 99.999%, they are just a waste of space. But for those rare few minutes, they are very important. Just like TSUNAMI ESCAPE ROUTE.

Hope to have a response from my email to Healy when I go in tomorrow.

Happy 70th Muhammad Ali (another Louisville Boy).

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

Reader Comments

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25. dotmom
3:44 AM GMT on January 21, 2012
ChrisFlorida: You are so right about the trees and Goose Creek Road. Also Hurstbourne Parkway. We live nearby and feel we really dodged a bullet and were lucky. No one was hurt or lives lost.
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24. ChrisFlorida
2:31 AM GMT on January 21, 2012
Long time since I visited your blog. I just talked to my mom in Louisville. She lives on goose creek road. She says a tornado touched down near her recently. Just knocked down some trees but still scary. You seem to be doing well. I'll try to visit more often
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23. Dodabear
7:00 PM GMT on January 20, 2012
"Some interesting points have been brought up that we are not able to defend our arctic borders or respond to crisis. If our enemies didn't know it before, they know now."

We can defend our arctic border. We have lots of methods to get there other than icebreaker. If it needs to be defended, we have more than enough capability.

Just not appropriate to use for a refueling operation that does not impact national security.
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22. Arbie
5:51 PM GMT on January 20, 2012
It doesn't look to me like anything is going wrong with Renda. Apparently the coast guard is letting the locals tour their ship fairly extensively. "Carol in Alaska"'s pics on flickr are worth checking out, if you all are interested. It is quite noticeable that she does not have any close-up pics of either the Russian ship or its crew. Suggests to me either they have been asked to not take pics of the Russians or their ship, not share them, and maybe the Russians are not being allowed to mix with the locals. One has to wonder!

Interesting discussions amongst the various people. I can't believe some people think this was a waste of money. What did they expect them to do?! Some interesting points have been brought up that we are not able to defend our arctic borders or respond to crisis. If our enemies didn't know it before, they know now.

Of course, I think maybe it is kind of like the Texas coast in the old days. If someone wants to land there, what are they going to do? Lots of interesting discussions in the early days on the worth of spending money defending the TX coast.
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21. joealaska
5:41 PM GMT on January 20, 2012
Well it is Friday, the day we unload the weekly vessel. So we got 6 inches of new snow last night.

I got the story on Baranof and the grounding on the rocks.

Another vessel which is a good customer got back in town last night after a big engine fire knocked out their power. Pretty big boat.

Posting more tonight.
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20. MissNadia
1:32 PM GMT on January 20, 2012
Good Morning,
The Oil Convoy is still in Nome!
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19. dotmom
11:21 PM GMT on January 19, 2012
Arbie: Good job. That is quite a story. Hard to imagine. Our canine friends are something else. Thanks for taking the time to dig up this information.
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18. Arbie
10:54 PM GMT on January 19, 2012
Thank you. I had to look, and the statue is very pretty. It almost looks like it is by that bridge you always see in movies. The arched brick one in the ravine that they always pretend people are either getting mugged under or running through, about to get mugged.

Mind you, I have never been to Central Park LOL. For all I know, there are bridges like that all over the place.

Funny how one thing leads to another around here. When I saw Central Park had a website, it made me wonder if the big parks in Houston have websites (of their own). Of course they do. The conservancies that make them their business want to advertise. First thing I know, I'm planning my next trip to the park...
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17. joealaska
9:51 PM GMT on January 19, 2012
Good post Arbie, although I have heard it before. It is funny to know about BALTO in NYC.
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16. Arbie
6:45 PM GMT on January 19, 2012
There was an fascinating telling of another Nome crisis, a diptheria outbreak in the middle of winter, back in 1925 in the Washington Post yesterday. I have cut and past it below for anyone interested (seems to fit the blog).

Posted at 01:49 PM ET, 01/18/2012
Nome weather-related crisis averted, for second time in history
By Don Lipman

If you’ve followed the struggle by the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy and the Russian tanker Renda to re-supply Nome, Alaska with badly needed fuel oil, you know that a crisis appears to have been averted.

Situated on the western coast of Alaska, on the Bering Sea, Nome could not be re-supplied in the fall because tankers were unable to tackle the horrendous weather conditions (even by Alaskan standards). It was decided that, to prevent Nome from running out of fuel before spring, a new effort would begin in early January, something that had never been done before in mid-winter.

Despite one of the coldest Alaskan winters in years— nearly opposite to conditions in the lower 48—the effort has apparently succeeded, providing Nome and environs with a lifeline until spring.

To reach Nome, the rescue vessels had to traverse about 300 miles of thick sea ice under the most difficult of conditions. After insuring that all connections were secure, the Russian tanker is now pumping 1.5 million gallons of fuel oil to on-shore depots. So, although some of the most complex aspects of the whole operation are ongoing, officials are confident of success.

Ironically, exactly 87 years ago—in 1925--during a similar Alaskan January*, another crisis in Nome was narrowly averted—this one of a medical nature. It was called the “Great Race of Mercy,” the hastily arranged rescue operation to save Nome from a potential diphtheria epidemic.

Although it was unclear at first that diphtheria was the cause of the increasing number of respiratory illnesses and deaths, once the cause was established, time was of the essence--as it was this January—to obtain the desperately needed anti-toxin. Fortunately, a supply was located in Anchorage, about 1000 miles away, but transporting it to Nome in the dead of an Alaskan winter would be daunting, to say the least.

In the year 1925, only a few planes even existed in Alaska and they had been dismantled for the winter, so a flight to Nome was out of the question (not to mention the fact that no one had ever attempted to fly the Anchorage-to-Nome route in mid-winter). Since shipment by sea was also impossible (the current Nome crisis illustrates that well), only one option remained: ship the anti-toxin by train to the rail head at Nenana, and by dog sled from there to Nome. Even this had not been attempted in mid-winter before.

Arrangements were quickly made to transport the serum to Nenana, where it arrived by train on January 27. With a temperature of -50 degrees F, sled dog “musher”(the first of 20) “Wild Bill” Shannon was off, carrying his precious cargo on the first leg of a 674-mile journey. And on and on they went—one musher relay team after another in temperatures far below zero—until reaching Nulato, 355 miles away.

At Nulato, the last musher was met by a team which had traveled the 319 miles from Nome—partially over uncharted Bering Sea ice--and would make the return trip as well—in record time. The team was led by sled dog “Balto,” who would become world-famous for what was considered one of the greatest endurance feats of the day.** All in all, the entire dog team portion of the trip took only 5 and one-half days, a record still unbroken.

When the serum arrived, and was thawed, it proved quite effective and the Nome quarantine was lifted on February 21, about a month after the first signs of illness. Balto had saved the day, it would appear, although the honors given to Balto were controversial, to say the least.

Historic image of Iditarod trail. Source: Bureau of Land Management By now, of course, you realize that the “Great Race of Mercy” trip was one that mostly followed the Iditarod Trail, established long ago by Native Americans, but mostly known today for the famous Iditarod Race which takes place each March between Willow, Alaska (near Anchorage) to Nome.

*It was said that the 1924-25 Alaskan winter saw some of the coldest temperatures in 20 years

**Balto was destined to tour throughout the “lower 48” and eventually have a statue erected in Central Park, New York City.

By Don Lipman | 01:49 PM ET, 01/18/2012
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15. ladyhomer
3:42 PM GMT on January 19, 2012
Renda has pumped all the fuel & expects to be underway before dark today according to the Anchorage news --good job well done!!!! Still very cold here below zero again this am Minus 4 here in Homer & MINUS seven in Anchorage.
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14. MissNadia
12:48 PM GMT on January 19, 2012
Good Morning and it is a Good morning here in NC,
The newspaper is reporting that Renda has pumped all her gasoline and is now working on Diesel fuel !
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13. code1
1:46 AM GMT on January 19, 2012
Kudos Arbie for giving credit to photog Carol. Being a flickerite myself, under different handle, allows me a different perspective. I'm by NO means a "photog", but you would be amazed how many of our photos have been pirated for profit. Still fighting that battle with less than honorable Cafe Press! Never minded for my shots to be used for sharing and pleasure, but really have issue with others using mine for profit which I am not worthy of, yet the slugs have made $$ off of. I rarely even post here any longer because of same. Yet again, I am NOT a photog. Geez! Social media has made our lives better & worse. My photos there now are not downloadable either, because of same.
Joe, I get the not so good day off, & not perm comment. After all, I was consultant for 10 years. $$ enticed me for perm last year. Some companies will pay same if you do good job, & they want you. I smile at bank every 2 weeks, sleeping in own bed, while wishing I were elsewhere. Soon come! However, getting itchy feet again. Must be scratched soon. Looking forward to your next adventure. For me? Must be south of Mason Dixon line, & no further west than AZ.
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12. cybersuze
10:54 PM GMT on January 18, 2012
Hey Joe! Finally getting some snow here in Boise!! and BOGUS will open tomorrow! latest opening EVER! 69 years! Well, we too are now on the border rain/snow. Just wondered if GNU guy had made it back. also, we saw that billy the kid show too!@
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11. Arbie
6:03 PM GMT on January 18, 2012
Hi all. Found a way to post some pics of Renda and Nome from flickr that aren't downloadable, in case anybody is interested (they are very good).

Link to photo of Renda by Carol in Alaska on flickr

Link to another photo of Renda by Carol in Alaska on flickr

Link to photo of Nome on cold winter night by Carol in Alaska on flickr
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10. ladyhomer
4:24 PM GMT on January 18, 2012
Do they use sand on the ice there Joe? We go to the beach & get sand & put on our driveways also pea gravel mixed in works good also then you don't slip & slide so much & can get trachion. some people use kitty litter but not the clumping kind . We deal with the same issue here with the ice also with the falling snow off the roofs --it sounds like an avalanche when it comes roaring down. I see Dutch & also Homer has been having alot of earthquakes lately. you need to get a pair of ice grips to wear on your shoes, my hubby took sheet roof screws & put in the bottom of his shoes works very well!! Have fun skating around today--I'm right there with yah!!!!
Oh by the way we have MINUS 4 this am we have been living in single didgits for almost a week now BBRRRRrrrrr it's cold!!!!! but the sun is shining brightly everyday & the daylight increasing
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9. MissNadia
2:32 PM GMT on January 18, 2012
Hey Arbie,
Thanks for posting LiverpoolAK's pics... I get the chills just looking at them !!!
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8. calpoppy
1:01 PM GMT on January 18, 2012
A suggestion for staying upright on the ice get some yak tracks. They slip on your shoes and have ice cleats on them. My son wears them in Kodiak on the flight deck. I have some and they work great when we travel to icy areas.
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7. Arbie
12:32 PM GMT on January 18, 2012
Hope Joe's e-mail to Healy gets answered soon too.

Meanwhile, I am enjoying pics on flickr. Some of my favs.

From LiverpoolAK (from deck of Healy)

More LiverpoolAK

Healy bridge (LiverpoolAK)

From KNOM Radio (interested local onlookers)

Some of the best and most recent ones were from somebody called Carol in Alaska, who disabled downloading her photos, in case anyone is interested.

Also, lots of great pics of Nome.

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6. insideuk
11:30 AM GMT on January 18, 2012
Incidentally, I have managed to return to my usual faceless silhouette WU avatar on my phone following a brief period of possessorship under the HAUPT.

I deleted some history and a few cookies and all went back to normal after I logged back into my account.

It was a bizarre experience.

Every time I check my phone now I wonder who I'll be...
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5. insideuk
11:03 AM GMT on January 18, 2012
Puddles of melt water on sheets of ice are the absolute worst for Bambi legged stuff, it happened here last winter. That little bit of sun does way more harm than good, now you have this ultra smooth egg box shaped surface lying in wait for you, beneath iced water pools that have you A over T and achieving the full gymnastic splits position mid vault, and all this happens, insultingly adding to your injuries, in a very public arena.

It's a cruel environment in which to find yourself.

Spectacularly funny to observe from the safety of indoors, obviously.

I still laugh now when I think of seeing all the kids walking home from school that day. It's fine. They all made a full recovery. Kids bones mend fast.

For the most part anyway. One is still limping a bit but it's probably just attention seeking behaviour. It's prevented him playing cricket near my car this past summer, so it's all good...

And then you have this added bonus of roof ice slippage. Those warning signs would be more useful if you used them as head protection, though admittedly a 25lb chunk is still going to stunt your growth for a year or two. Maybe hammer you into the ground an inch or so.

I suppose the trick is to be listening for the very first R of the ROAR as you approach, so you can jump well clear?

Probably the worst thing to be doing is talking to someone on your cell phone as you approach isn't it Joe?......I said isn't it Joe?.....Joe, are you listening?

He must be on the phone again.

You are on a hiding to nothing by even THINKING you have a 'DAY OFF'. Maybe, psychologically speaking, it would be better not to call it that. Call it something else instead. Something that is less likely to cause disappointment and frustration?

Call it Tuesday.

That works. Its all about lowering your expectations to a point that makes it easier to cope. That's what my married girlfriends tell me anyway....

When I was a child we lived in a house that had a very steep driveway. The cul-de-sac was fairly flat, but from the road level our drive shot up at an astonishingly steep rate for about 25 feet before levelling off into a tight space between our house and the neighbouring property. It meant you had to 'give it some wellie' to get your car up the incline but be controlled enough to stop very shortly at the top.

This was well before I learned to drive, but my step Dad used to let us kids practice a bit – since it was on private property it was just about legal to do so.

Insane. But legal.

Most especially given that my brother couldn't even reach the pedals when he started practising. What six year old could? It was okay, he sat on my Dads knee and steered. My Dad did the pedals. I selected the gear, mostly I found 1st. Only once reverse. That put the wind up him...

And I always put the left indicator on as we approached, as you must always let the traffic behind know what your next manoeuvre would be. Course we never let the neighbours know what we were doing, there was always the risk that we'd end up parked in their downstairs toilet if we misjudged the steering.

We were careful. We never did it if we could see a light on in there.

But Joes trubba getting turned into his drive reminded me of the winters we had at that house. We were a one car family with two working parents, which meant we ALL had to get out of bed at 4.30am every morning to take my step Dad to work so my Mum could use the car during the day.

It also meant that there was quite a few hairy scary moments reversing down the slope in the wee dark hours with ice being a frequent feature of a British winters morning. My brother and sister had developed the knack of sleepwalking to the car and being unconscious again before the engine started.

Not me. Wide awake and awaiting the fairground ride that was such a feature of my childhood. We went in uncontrolled free fall backwards down that drive HUNDREDS of times without injury. And this was before anyone thought to install seatbelts for the rear seats, never mind legislate on their usage in the front.

It was a hell of a way to start the day.

Only once, in the 9 years we lived there, did it go wrong.

Mum was in the driving seat. And she was doing the driving, unusually. We three kids were on the back seat gently encouraging her to consider keeping us home from school due to the current heavy snowfall and likelihood of school boilers breaking down by mid-morning anyway and more importantly because we NEEDED to build a snowman RIGHT NOW.

We skidded backwards downhill, as per normal, but ended up more slalom than ski jump, before coming to a VERY sudden halt. The rear end of the car had wedged itself over the top of a small water hydrant marker, the rear tyre was no longer on the ground. We dangled, still at an acute angle, only now with the entire weight of the back end of the vehicle resting on a foot high metal post.

Mum called a taxi. Fortunately he was the largest taxi driver in the world and he LIFTED our car off the post and back down onto our neighbours front lawn like it was a toy. He has become a LEGEND in our family.

In my memory he was 8 feet tall and made Hulk Hogan look puny. He left with a big tip and no passengers.

I begged him to stay and help build a snowman. He would have been the best snowman builder in the world...

Mum made us go to school.

We moved house before I got my drivers licence so I never got to do the reverse slalom thing. I drove around there recently, just for a looksee.

The hydrant post is still bent.

But the neighbours light was on so....

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4. Rotty3
11:02 AM GMT on January 18, 2012
Sounds like it was a pretty interesting weather week up there too... it's pouring cane here. Has been since 3 am...
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3. joealaska
6:34 AM GMT on January 18, 2012
Code, I never said it was easy. Or permanent.

For a "day off" today was a bit much.
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2. code1
5:04 AM GMT on January 18, 2012
One question ... How the heck after living in warmth most of your life, have you adapted? Most happy you have, & that you've taught us much of the great Alaska State. Just don't see how KY/AZ boy could cope with what you do. No sarcasm, truly want to understand. Ask Doda...I'm curious, with my head being buried in the sand.
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1. code1
4:45 AM GMT on January 18, 2012
Watched the tribute to "The Greatest". I concur. Having lived in the realitively mild KY although, I didn't believe it no matter how many times my parents told me so after moving to KY from FL. I did gain appreciation for the beauty, people, & sports. CATS fan here tho. Sorry Card fans, UK alumni I am. How fun I imagine her (WU's UK that is) eyes to be, when she wakes soon to see me singing her praises. I adore your wit UK, especially your handle! :). No slippy, slide Joe. We ain't (as they say in our 'Ol KY Home) as young as we used to be. Bruises take longer to heal ya know! 'Mon down, where you can chase balls around green year around. We'll leave a light on for ya! No Motel 6 tho. I hear the walls are thin.
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