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Freezing rain, wind pose a potent threat

The hazards posed by ice storms are known to be many and varied, but it must have surprised more than a few Melancthon residents to see the township’s famed wind farm paralyzed by freezing rain.

It will be interesting, indeed, to see whether anyone will be able to come up with a viable means of de-icing the turbine blades.

One obvious means would be to heat the blades. However, a spokesman for the manufacturer, General Electric, has pointed out that installing electric heating devices would add considerably to the blades’ weight, making them less efficient. It seems to be an example of a cure being worse than the disease, at least if freezing rain is a relatively rare occurrence.

Another possibility might be to follow the approach taken by commercial airlines, and somehow find a means of spraying the blades with a deicing solution.

However, the challenge lies in finding a means of reaching the blades. Even the longest aerial ladders used by today’s firefighters would probably be far too short.

Fortunately, the “highly unusual” combination of freezing rain and high winds that caused the shutdown has been followed by an equally unusual outbreak of mild mid-December weather this week that solved a problem that hopefully won’t recur too often.