News Stories

Lethal Ice Blocks Fall From Sky

One more thing to worry about?a chunk of ice could plunge through your ceiling without warning. It's happened twice recently, in Georgia and California. Homeowners think the ice is coming from airplane toilets, but Unknowncountry has found that while ice can fall from planes, it's a result of global warming. Contrails, which are ice clouds composed of crystallized vapor trails, remain in the atmosphere longer these days, because the lower atmosphere is retaining more heat, making the upper atmosphere colder. The ice can also be gigantic hailstones that occur when cloud tops reach extreme heights, and hit the cold air above the stratosphere. Pieces of these icy clouds and contrails fall through the atmosphere, getting bigger and bigger. Most fall harmlessly, but some end up smashing through people's roofs and windshields.

A basketball-sized chunk of ice fell through the roof of the home of a Lawrenceville, Georgia family, leaving a 2 foot hole and landing inches from a child?s bed. Christine Woodard believes the ice may have fallen from a passing airplane, and is waiting for answers from the Federal Aviation Administration. She says, "They were telling me that if I saw the registration number on the plane, they could track it down. That?s obviously impossible."

The ice shattered into several three or four-pound pieces on impact. Fortunately, no one was in the bedroom when it hit. If her daughters had been home that night, they would have been in bed when the ice plunged through the ceiling. It struck a small wicker basket where the family?s dog usually sleeps. Brother Joey, who was in the living room at the time, describes the sound as "like a door was slammed, but 20 times louder," and says, "I looked around and wondered if a car hit the house."

A chunk of ice also crashed through the roof of a Santa Cruz, California home, again landing in a child?s bedroom. Monique Zesati, age 13, was a few feet away when the basketball-sized chunk landed, scattering insulation and black roof tar all over her room. "There was just this huge bang and a ball of blue ice fell through the roof," says her mother Holly.

John Lucchesi of the Santa Cruz Fire Department says the ice was large enough and fast enough to be deadly. "It probably would have killed her (if it had hit her)," he says.

They put the ice in a bucket to save it. Holly found out that alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride is used in chemical toilets in airplanes, but a test of the ice shows it contains no toxic materials. This is consistent with tests made on other fallingice blocks.

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