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Five Years After the Ice Storm…and It’s Still REALLY Cold

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It was five years ago today that we were in the throes of what many believe to be the worst weather experience of their lives. Count me among them.

Yes, it is a ridiculously frigid 15 degrees at this writing, another in what seems to be a long line arctic blasts that have taken aim at the tri-state for a month, now.

But what began on January 26th, 2009 would become the one meteorological event (disaster?) that I really NEVER want to repeat.

It was debilitating.

To be honest, I only lost my electricity for 24 hours. But it’s the way in which this storm simply shut down an entire region of the United States–homes without power for a month, at least–that makes it the worst storm I remember.

It actually seemed fairly harmless at first–emphasis on SEEMED. Since it was freezing rain and not solid precipitation, it began so quietly. By the time I had finished my show, the cars, parking lot, the streets, everything had taken on a shiny glaze. And I knew we were in trouble.

I implicitly trust our weather source, but in a situation like this I was hoping that somewhere along the way, the storm’s course had altered or the temperature was going to be a little colder or warmer so that we’d have either snow or regular rain and avoid a coating of ice. No such luck, as we all now know.

I went very carefully out to the transmitter building to turn on WBKR’s back-up transmitter. That was a tricky venture. I would eventually make more trips as the need for our generator materialized once we lost power. And communication with the outside world wasn’t happening. No cell service. So there I was.

I went out front to see what everything looked like and to see if there was anyone still out on the road. And that’s when I heard the first small explosion, for lack of a better word. And then I saw the blue-green glow rise into the sky. Then the crackling.

Freaked me out.

That was the beginning of a series of small explosions or “pops” which would follow or precede that crackling noise, which I learned was the breaking of tree limbs.

The city was so quiet, I imagined I was hearing those noises from all the way across town. I figured they were echoing off the frozen streets. Just really eerie.

And that was all just the first night.

As the scope of this nightmare unfolded, we would learn that hundreds of thousands of folks were without electricity and would be for a very long time to come. Then we would learn of the storm’s death toll. Devastating.

The 2009 Ice Storm  took it’s physical toll. It took it’s mental toll.

I think I can safely say we were (and ARE) all tapped out.


This is the most debilitating storm I have ever experienced. To be honest, I only lost my electricity for 24 hours. But it’s the way in which this storm simply shut down better than one half of an entire state that makes it the worst storm I can ever remember. It arrived from the southwest on January 26th, 2009 and seemed fairly harmless at first, despite the warnings that preceded it. It’s just that it came so quietly. I had come back to the radio station to finish up some work. The rain had already started. You could barely hear it. I guess when it’s freezing rain, it’s just much quieter. But it wasn’t very long before the cars, the parking lot, the streets, everything had a shiny glaze that was spelling disaster as it accumulated. As the evening wore on and the ice coating got thicker, the city of Owensboro began losing power at a fairly rapid rate. It was so creepy the way the transformers would blow and send an ominous blue glow into the sky. I remember how eerily quiet it was as I walked across the parking lot to the transmitter building where I needed to fire up the old generator. I mean it was deathly still, except for the sound of those transformers followed by the cracking of large limbs under the weight of the ice. I imagined some of the noises I was hearing came from all the way across town and were just echoing off the ice which, by now, had coated everything in the county and, for the most part, the entire tri-state area. It felt like a horror movie; I didn’t like the darkness, not in this situation. And I wasn’t sure how long our generator would last. It would eventually need more gas, but how would we get it? The next day was the beginning of a long ordeal for hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people. Folks began to realize that the power likely wasn’t coming back anytime soon. The various utility cooperatives were working diligently to restore electricity, but the damage was extensive. A windstorm is one thing; heavy tree boughs breaking and destroying power lines and bringing down poles is quite another. And then there was the death toll. It rose to 55 nationally with Kentucky being the hardest hit among all the states affected by this catastrophic winter nightmare. All in all, 24 lost their lives in the Commonwealth. And it would be nearly a month before everyone had electricity in their homes again. It was not just the physical toll taken, but the mental one as well that made this the ugliest meteorological experience in my lifetime. Unfortunately, it was far worse for many others.Read More: The Worst Storms I Remember – Dave Spencer’s Top Five – WBKR | http://wbkr.com/the-worst-storms-i-remember-dave-spencers-top-five/?trackback=tsmclip
This is the most debilitating storm I have ever experienced. To be honest, I only lost my electricity for 24 hours. But it’s the way in which this storm simply shut down better than one half of an entire state that makes it the worst storm I can ever remember. It arrived from the southwest on January 26th, 2009 and seemed fairly harmless at first, despite the warnings that preceded it. It’s just that it came so quietly. I had come back to the radio station to finish up some work. The rain had already started. You could barely hear it. I guess when it’s freezing rain, it’s just much quieter. But it wasn’t very long before the cars, the parking lot, the streets, everything had a shiny glaze that was spelling disaster as it accumulated. As the evening wore on and the ice coating got thicker, the city of Owensboro began losing power at a fairly rapid rate. It was so creepy the way the transformers would blow and send an ominous blue glow into the sky. I remember how eerily quiet it was as I walked across the parking lot to the transmitter building where I needed to fire up the old generator. I mean it was deathly still, except for the sound of those transformers followed by the cracking of large limbs under the weight of the ice. I imagined some of the noises I was hearing came from all the way across town and were just echoing off the ice which, by now, had coated everything in the county and, for the most part, the entire tri-state area. It felt like a horror movie; I didn’t like the darkness, not in this situation. And I wasn’t sure how long our generator would last. It would eventually need more gas, but how would we get it? The next day was the beginning of a long ordeal for hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people. Folks began to realize that the power likely wasn’t coming back anytime soon. The various utility cooperatives were working diligently to restore electricity, but the damage was extensive. A windstorm is one thing; heavy tree boughs breaking and destroying power lines and bringing down poles is quite another. And then there was the death toll. It rose to 55 nationally with Kentucky being the hardest hit among all the states affected by this catastrophic winter nightmare. All in all, 24 lost their lives in the Commonwealth. And it would be nearly a month before everyone had electricity in their homes again. It was not just the physical toll taken, but the mental one as well that made this the ugliest meteorological experience in my lifetime. Unfortunately, it was far worse for many others.Read More: The Worst Storms I Remember – Dave Spencer’s Top Five – WBKR | http://wbkr.com/the-worst-storms-i-remember-dave-spencers-top-five/?trackback=tsmclip

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