Freeze Effects

by Jana Ritter - Published: 1/08/2014

A polar vortex brought bitter cold to much of the United States on Monday and Tuesday, dragging temperatures in the Midwest and Northeast into the single digits and below. The end was in sight by Wednesday, but effects of the freeze were still in sight. From the ice covered plants in Panama City Beach, Fla. to an ice pillar stretches to the ground from a downspout on a building just outside Wilmington, Del., to hundreds of truck drivers stranded at the Goshen Road Pilot rest stop in Indiana - largely due to their frozen trucks.

Ice tree

Since Allen and the surrounding counties put a travel advisory into effect this past weekend, hundreds of drivers have had to remain at the Pilot station on Goshen and Coliseum. While road conditions are improving and some travel is being permitted, many drivers still can't leave because their truck is snowed in. “The most frustrating right now is not being able to get out when everything is all cleared up," says John Vollrath, a driver stranded since Saturday night. "Those wreckers, they cost an arm and a leg - especially if you're an owner/operator. So it's all about helping hands out here."

Quite a few drivers have also been complaining their truck is "gelling up" due to the subzero temperatures. Vollrath explains. “There is a certain temperature where the diesel starts to gel, just like dishwasher soap. And even if you put fuel additive in there to make it not gel up, at -12, -15 degrees it's hopeless. Especially if you've been sitting for two, three days. "Once this happens, it becomes next to impossible for the fuel to flow to the engine and get trucks running properly.

One of those lending a helping hand is Brian Walberry of Fort Wayne. “I’m a good Samaritan, so I wanted to come out and give my effort and helping hand and get them unstuck because I know it is very important that these deliveries are made in time. America's run pretty much off semi trucks."

While the rest of the country has been suffering the deep freeze, unusual warm weather has brought drought conditions in California. After a record dry 2013. 88 percent of the state is experiencing severe drought and 28 percent of the state is in extreme drought," said meteorologist Chris Dolce. "Snowpack in the Sierra Nevada is paltry, with snow water content just 20 to 30 percent of average."

Some cities already are restricting water use, while prospects for another dry summer have raised alarm about agriculture and wildfires.