Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Maine Minutiae : The Great Ice Storm of 1998

Mother Nature can be a cruel mistress when she sees fit to. The Northeast US and Southeast Canada found out firsthand what a bitch she can be, starting on January 5, 1998. The setup from Wikipedia : "A series of surface low pressure systems passed in this atmospheric circulation between January 5 and January 10, 1998. For more than 80 hours, steady freezing rain and drizzle fell over an area of several thousand square miles of Eastern Ontario, including Ottawa and Kingston, an extensive area in southern Quebec, northern New York, and northern New England (including parts of Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine)." My wife, Heather, had a few days off work at the time, and decided to drive from her home is Eastport to Sidney (just north of Augusta) to visit her aunt and uncle. Soon after her arrival, the freezing rain started and didn't stop for  more than three days. Heather writes, "Two things stick out in my mind when I think of the Ice storm in 98.  The first one happened when I was visiting family in central Maine.  I woke up hearing the news on the radio that Sonny Bono died in that skiing accident.  Drowning out the radio however was the snapping, and popping of the trees in my family's backyard.  You could hear that snapping,crackling, and popping of the trees all day and into the night.  Another thing that sticks out in my mind was when I was going home to my mother's house who lives in downeast Maine.  They didnt have their power back yet and my mother took everything from her fridge and freezer and put it in the backyard in the snow and on a table they put outside.  Talk about your Yankee ingenuity." On top of that, over 700,000 of Maine's 1.2 people were without electricity, some for months including Heather's aunt and uncle. A more detailed account of the Great Ice Storm of 1998 can be found here.

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