The Nation's 10 Worst Ice Storms

Chris Dolce and Jon Erdman
Published: February 12, 2014

#10: New Year's 1961 (Northern Idaho)

The most destructive ice storms feature heavy ice accumulation, sometimes on the order of several inches, that, when combined with strong winds, bring down trees and power lines, plunge hundreds of thousands into the dark sometimes for several days.

We've collected a list of the top 10 worst ice storms in U.S. history, starting with one in northern Idaho.

A three-day ice event ushering in 1961 featuring not only freezing rain, but also occasional freezing fog set a U.S. record ice accumulation of eight inches in north-central Idaho, according to Weather Underground's Christopher Burt (blog). 

Power outages and tree damage was widespread in this area.

Incidentally, one somewhat common ice storm corridor is along the Columbia River, where subfreezing air spilling over the Continental Divide can sometimes remain trapped ahead of a wet Pacific storm.

NEXT > #9: Slippery Super Bowl

Featured Blogs

An Unprecedented Thanksgiving Visitor: a Category 4 Hurricane

By Dr. Jeff Masters
November 26, 2015

Remarkable Hurricane Sandra exploded into a Category 4 storm with 145 mph winds overnight, making it the latest major hurricane ever observed in the Western Hemisphere. The previous record was held by an unnamed Atlantic hurricane in 1934 that held on to Category 3 status until November 24.

Incredible November Warmth for Portions of the U.S., Europe and Beyond

By Christopher C. Burt
November 10, 2015

The first 10 days of November 2015 have seen record-breaking warmth for many locations in Florida and elsewhere in the U.S. while all-time November monthly national heat records have so far been broken in the U.K., Ireland, France, Estonia, Slovenia, and Finland. All-time record heat (for any month) was also observed in parts of Australia and French Guiana. Here is a brief summary.

An extraordinary meteorological event; was one of its results a 1000-year flood?

By Stu Ostro
October 5, 2015

The confluence of meteorological ingredients the first weekend in October 2015 resulted in an extraordinary weather event with severe impacts. Was one of them a 1000-year flood?

Why the Arrest of a Science-Loving 14-year-old Matters

By Shaun Tanner
September 16, 2015

By now, many of you have heard or read about the arrest of Ahmed Mohamed, a 14-year-old high school student from Irving, Texas. Ahmed was arrested because school officials called the police after he showed one of his teachers his homemade clock. Mistaken for a bomb, Ahmed was taken into custody, interrogated, shamed, suspended (still on suspension today, Wednesday), and reprimanded. All of this after it has been found that the "device" he brought to school was indeed, a homemade clock.

2013-14 - An Interesting Winter From A to Z

By Tom Niziol
May 15, 2014

It was a very interesting winter across a good part of the nation from the Rockies through the Plains to the Northeast. Let's break down the most significant winter storms on a month by month basis.

What the 5th IPCC Assessment Doesn't Include

By Angela Fritz
September 27, 2013

Melting permafrost has the potential to release an additional 1.5 trillion tons of carbon into the atmosphere, and could increase our global average temperature by 1.5°F in addition to our day-to-day human emissions. However, this effect is not included in the IPCC report issued Friday morning, which means the estimates of how Earth's climate will change are likely on the conservative side.