Tis the season for ice storms: what you need to know to battle t - ABC21: Your Weather Authority

Tis the season for ice storms: what you need to know to battle the elements

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ALLEN COUNTY, Ind. (WPTA21) -

Snow storms can be a nuisance, but when the precipitation comes in the form of ice, the situation can turn into a major headache.

Travel conditions on ice are often very treacherous, and you add in the extra problem of power outages.

There’s a good chance of some freezing rain this week-end, but it’s not clear if we’ll experience a significant ice storm.

But whether ice falls from the sky in this next approaching weather system, or some other time, power companies, tree trimming services and homeowners have a lot of incentive to be ready.

Almost exactly eight years ago, freezing rain hammered Fort Wayne like a Mack truck.

The damage was widespread, tree limbs snapped, power lines drooped and cut electricity to homes all over town.

Homeowners, in some cases, went a week or more without power.

"There were hundreds of crews from other parts of the country that came in," said Tracy Warner with Indiana-Michigan Power.

I & M's parent company, American Electric Power, has its own meteorology department that monitors developing storms, tracking moisture levels and what wind speeds are involved, and in instances where freezing rain is bearing down on an area, the company puts local repair crews on standby, plus there's a network set up to call in reserves.

“The utilities have mutual aid, just like volunteer fire departments have and fire departments, is that if one needs help the others come to their help," Warner said.

Jeff Ling has run his own tree management firm in Fort Wayne for years.

In heavy ice storms, limbs and even whole trees can be at risk of toppling, routinely right onto power lines.

Ling says Oak trees are generally the sturdiest in resisting the threat of ice build-up, while soft Maples, Elms, Cottonwoods and Willow trees tend to fail more quickly.

Ling says if you want your property protected, it's a good idea to reach out to a professional for ways homeowners can boost their defenses.

"Proper pruning, and to assess the tree, and if the tree is structurally unsound to have it removed. Just as they would not drive an unsafe car, they should not have an unsafe tree," Ling said.

In the event of an extended power outage, you can buy a generator for temporary service.

I & M says it's personal choice if you want to go that route, but if you purchase a generator, the utility advises to make sure and follow all directions for safe use of the unit.

The big one, don't run a generator inside your home; the carbon monoxide fumes in an enclosed space can be deadly.

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