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Ice storm affects the New England area.

Ten days before the official start of the winter season on the night of December 11th, New England experienced its largest ice storm since 1998. A cold frontal boundary dropped south of New England on the evening of the 10th. Low pressure developed along the frontal boundary and tracked rapidly to the northeast, spreading a significant amount of precipitation into New England. A deep layer of warm air aloft and sub-freezing air at the surface resulted in a major ice storm across interior Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire as well as much of northern New England.

While this ice storm affected residents from Pennsylvania to Maine, knocking power out to more than one million people, one of the hardest hit areas was central New England. Half an inch to an inch of ice with locally higher amounts accreted on most exposed surfaces. The ice load downed numerous trees, branches, and power lines which resulted in widespread power outages. Residents in Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire reported that it sounded as though firecrackers were going off throughout the storm as trees snapped. More than 300,000 customers were reportedly without power in Massachusetts and an additional 300,000 were without power in the state of New Hampshire. Because of the breadth of this storm, extra crews to reinstate power were hard to come by. Power crews from states as far away as South Carolina, as well as local National Guard teams, were called out to help with power restoration and clean up.

One of the biggest impacts of the storm was the widespread loss of power. While most people had their power restored within a week, others were still without power at Christmas (nearly 2 weeks later). During this period, temperatures were mostly below normal and at least one major snowstorm affected the same area. At the time of the December 19th snowstorm, over 100,000 customers were still without power in the two states combined. Most communities had opened shelters to provide a warm, safe place for residents. However, according to the numbers reported in local newspapers, most did not take advantage of this opportunity and chose to remain in their homes, using wood stoves or generators for heat. Many schools, a week and a half from the winter holiday break at the time of the storm, cancelled school for the remainder of the month because of a lack of electricity and clear routes for transporting students.

Despite the widespread impact, only one fatality was indirectly attributed to the storm. A public works employee, supervising storm clean up in Marlborough, went missing during his shift and was found dead two days later in a reservoir. Damage to the infrastructure in Massachusetts and New Hampshire amounted to roughly eighty million dollars. This amount does not include damage to private property, which was unavailable at the time of this report. The extent of the damage and number of people affected prompted the governors of both Massachusetts and New Hampshire to request federal assistance. FEMA approved both requests. President Bush issued a Major Disaster Declaration for Public Assistance for seven Massachusetts counties and all of New Hampshire.

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Publication:Storm Data
Article Type:Report
Date:Dec 1, 2008
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