Top ten weather stories for 2008: story ten
10. PE-Ice Storms
Ice storms left thousands of residents on Prince Edward Island unplugged and in the dark through long cold nights on at least a couple of occasions during the winter. An ice storm in December felled 300 utility poles – more than what was lost in Hurricane Juan. It was the worst power outage since the mid-1970s and cost Maritime Electric an estimated $1.5 million to repair. Still cleaning up two months later, the province was hit at the end of January by the most crippling ice storm in years. Nearly 95 per cent of Islanders were without electricity. The freezing rain and ice pellet-drizzle mix left thick layers of ice on roof tops, trees and transmission lines. Power poles dropped like dominoes pulled down by ice-laden lines and whipped by strong, gusty winds. The temperature never got much above zero and icing continued to grow. Western regions took the brunt of the damage, with thousands of miles of drooping power lines and hundreds of snapped poles. Ice-damaged trees bent so much they looked like frozen palm trees.
For those venturing outside, vehicles slid across ice-coated surfaces or were blocked by trees lying across the middle of the road. Almost three quarters of the trees in Summerside suffered some damage. Across the province, makeshift shelters were organized in legion halls, fire stations, schools and community centres, while tens of thousands bundled up in homes without light, heat or hot water in the bitter cold that followed. Rescue teams and hydro crews arrived from outside the province, toiling 16-hour days under extremely difficult conditions in order to restore power. They travelled by snowmobiles, but were frustrated at times by thick fog. Just in case, the Canadian military remained on standby at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown, New Brunswick.
Winter 2007-2008 was one of the worst years ever for ice storm assaults on the Island's electricity grid. Combined with ice storms in December, January and again in February, repairs to Maritime Electric infrastructure totalled well in excess of $3 million.
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