The North American Ice Storm of 1998

Ice storms are common on the east coast of the US and Canada. The infrastructure is generally prepared for the havoc these storms can wreak, but winter 1998 brought with it the most crippling ice storm in living memory.

By 5 January 1998 it was clear eastern North America was in for a cold spell. An area of unusually high pressure was sitting over the Atlantic, trapping several weather systems on the land. Arctic air was being held at the surface in this area, while a front of low pressure was feeding it with warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico. The result was 12.7 centimetres (five inches) of freezing rain that fell over 80 hours, crystallising on anything it touched, taking down power lines, felling trees and making roads impassable everywhere. One of the worst-hit cities was Montréal in Québec.