ice chunk crash

by Robert Drinkwater, Medicine Hat News, 15 February 2000

Glen Newman says he doesn't think kids are to blame for a chunk of ice that crashed through the plastic cap of his pickup truck as he was driving through Ross Glen over the weekend. He thinks the ice fell off a passing airplane."It made a loud bang and the truck vibrated around," Newman says. "I looked around but didn't see any kids or other vehicles around at the time."Newman says he was on his way to the store on Saturday to exchange a sweater he got for Christmas that was too big. It was about 3:30 p.m. and he was travelling near Ross Glen school when he heard the bang.He stopped his truck, got out, and saw a hole in the top corner of the bed cover. He said the ice must have come from above and must have been travelling at great speed to have punched through the cover without shattering.Newman thinks it came from a plane and says he plans to take the ice to a medical laboratory for testing to see if it might be frozen sewage from a plane."It's still in the truck and it's still frozen," Newman says, noting that he does not want to keep the ice in his freezer in case it actually is frozen sewage.

Transport Canada spokesperson Neil Green in Edmonton said the department's civil aviation inspectors were at a convention in Winnipeg and could not be reached for comment Monday about whether clear ice could fall from planes.Students at Ross Glen school made ice sculptures out of frozen blocks several weeks ago and chunks of the sculptures remain on the school's lawn. Most of the blocks were coloured but a few were clear.Vice-principal Dale Klaudt says after a few days, the sculptures became targets for children. He says he cannot say whether the ice that hit Newman's truck came from one of the sculptures."There's all kinds of kids that go by the front of the school," he says. Medicine Hat Police Staff Sgt. Don Girling says he is not aware of any other reports of ice hitting vehicles over the weekend and says there were no reports of mischief against vehicles, either.He says if the ice had enough velocity to smash through the truck cap, it would need to have been thrown straight up in the air. That, he says, would mean whoever threw it would have to be nearby.

Environment Canada meteorologist Ole Jacobsen in Calgary, meanwhile, says the chunk that crashed through Newman's truck was larger than even the heaviest hail and would not be able to stay airbourne long enough to form naturally."My belief is that this is very unlikely to have been a meteorological event," Jacobsen says.Girling says he has seen situations where large pieces of ice have fallen off trucks while they were on overpasses and have crashed down on cars underneath but that is unlikely to explain what happened in Ross Glen.He says it is not the first time someone has reported ice falling from the sky in Medicine Hat although he says he has not heard of one in recent years. He says he is not sure what to make of this one."In the absence of any evidence to the contrary, I would have to say I don't know," Girling says.