Dry freeze means smooth skating

December 17, 2005

The Hood River News does not encourage its readers to venture onto ice-covered bodies of water. It is a dangerous activity that requires safety measures, experience and knowledge of ice and ice conditions.

The current landscape at and surrounding Laurance Lake is surreal; it’s a silent and dreamlike frosted candy-land scene resembling something Willy Wonka might have created in his famous chocolate factory.

The forest looks decadent; like marshmallow-cream covered gingerbread trees, delicious and ready to eat. And the two-plus feet of snow surrounding the lake is still light and fluffy, like sugar and egg-whites whipped into a meringue.

Laurance Lake freezing over is common, really. But for the first time in recent years, the ice is not covered by snow. This is due mainly to the recent cold and dry weather. The five-plus inch thick ice is a smooth, short-lived rarity that only a select group of local winter-wonderlanders take advantage of.

Ice skating is hardly a popular pastime in Hood River County. In fact, it’s safe to say only a few have tried it in this area since the damming of the Columbia River.

Stories and memories of cars driving across Columbia’s ice are becoming a thing of the past.

This month’s high pressure systems and easterly winds have pushed cold, dry air into the Hood River Valley, while warding off coastal systems that could carry precipitation.

Although powder-hound skiers and snowboarders are having freshie-withdrawals, the cold air is keeping snow from melting at the local ski resorts. It is also thickening the ice at lakes and ponds around the county.

The time window for ice skating around here is short, as ice is often covered by snow before it is thick enough to skate on. The current weather is increasing that window, however, and for the select few locals with ice experience — like Roger Nelson, Todd Wells and Peter Stackpole — lacing up a pair of skates and exploring Laurance Lake as it is rarely explored is a welcomed opportunity.

After taking necessary safety measures, including drilling the ice in several places to check its thickness, the three roamed the frozen, desolate surface of a lake with hockey sticks and a tennis ball. From a distance they resembled Oompa-Loompa confectioners, smoothing the surface of one of Charlie’s latest creations.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge



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