It might be the end of March and beginning of spring, but it still feels like winter. Ottawa has been hammered with snow, freezing rain, cold temperatures and a mixed bag of winter hell from mother nature. Could it possibly get any worse? Yes. In fact, it was back in 1998.
The Ice Storm of 1998
A series of five smaller ice storms hit Ontario, Quebec and eastern Canada in early January 1998. They were back-to-back storms that pelted Ottawa and surrounding areas with freezing rain that formed sheets of ice absolutely everywhere. Powerlines were frozen and crushed under the weight of the ice, roads were near impossible to drive, and schools were shut down for over a week.
How Bad Was It?
Atrocious and tragic. Ottawa was essentially shut down and some rural residents were without power for over a month! Roughly 100 cars skidded off the Queensway and shut it down. At its peak, 1.5 million people in eastern Ontario were without power. A state of emergency was called and over 16,000 armed forces personnel to assist across the affected regions. 4,000 of which were deployed in Ontario. There were 35 reported deaths due to fire, falling ice and carbon monoxide poisoning.
In the end, over $1 billion dollars in insurance claims were filled across the affected regions.
2018-2019 has been a rough winter, but let’s be thankful we weren’t hit with another ice storm.