New England Marks 20 Years Since Record Ice Storm

Winter Weather Boston
Bill Sikes/AP

This month marks 20 years since one of the most devastating ice storms on record impacted New England.

The ice storm of 1998 started on Monday January 5 with light freezing rain overspreading parts of Northern New England.

Freezing rain forms when snow falls out of a cloud, melts in a layer of warm air between the cloud and the ground, then freezes on contact when it hits cold surfaces like roads, trees, and cars. Everything becomes coated in ice.

The freezing rain continued in waves, picking up in intensity, during the middle of the week, finally ending the following Saturday.

A widespread 1-3” of ice accretion was reported from Maine and New Hampshire, into parts of Vermont.

That knocked out power to more than a million people across Northern New England, including 80% of Maine’s population according to the National Weather Service.

It took weeks to fully restore power in some cases.

Until the damaging October wind storm of last year, the 1998 ice storm held the record for knocking out power to the most customers for many utilities in the Pine Tree State.

Several people died due to accidents related to the storm.

At least three, according to the National Weather Service, died due to carbon monoxide poisoning. Others were killed by hypothermia.

While this ice storm was primarily confined to Northern New England, an ice storm 10 years later in December of 2008 also brought widespread damage to Southern New England.

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