Disaster News

Montreal Ice-Storm 1998

Looking back.

Looking back at the ice-storm today, it amazes me how the people survived. They were faced with brutal, cold winds. Slippery surfaces everywhere they went. And most importantly, no heat. With no way of keeping warm, how did they survive?  It took persistance, and good neighbors helped as well. Sharing what they had with others, and getting help themselves, it all added up.  

What Happened?

The Storm

On January 5th, 1998, the dangerous ice-storm hit Montreal. Without warning, super cooled droplets of precipitation  fell from the sky, and began to build layers atop the buildings and streets of Montreal as it hit the Earth’s cold surfaces, leaving no time for air bubbles for form as it froze instantly. Now, Ice Storms aren’t very common, so why this one formed  was very interesting.
A high pressure mass was delayed over the Atlantic, which forced warm air up towards Canada. It spread over the cold Arctic air in the Ottawa and St. Lawrence valleys. When the rain fell, it was ‘super cooled’ and once it hit the Earth’s cold surfaces, it froze instantly. Layer after layer of ice built up, each freezing atop each other, becoming thick as a block of cement, and just as strong. The ice encased everything, turning Montreal into a frozen death trap. The weight of the ice started to crumple power cones, taking out electricity all over the city. Soon, only one line of power cones remained. Feeding electricity to where it was needed most: hospitals. 
Injures were common during the storm, though many people had Carbon Monoxide poisoning caused from the natural gasses from small camping stoves. Other people had broken bones from being hit by a falling branch. In worst cases, it was hypothermia. People were so cold that the blood stopped flowing to their hands and feet, keeping back to the vital body organs such as the heart. But as the body got colder, you started to feel warmer, and your blood would spread back to your hands and feet, leaving your heart and other organs vulnerable to the cold.  One of  the worst incidents was that of a two year old girl.  “But the most heart-wrenching incident involved a two-year-old girl whose life was saved by the remarkable cool of a veteran Montreal fireman. After a huge electrical fire broke out in the Ville LaSalle home of Maleha Amrov, she could not find her baby, Jenanne, in the smoke. Ron Monahan, a 40-year-old fireman, fought through the smoke on hands and knees until he found the girl, who was not breathing. He carried her outside and administered artificial resuscitation - which was successful. Jenanne is expected to completely recover. “ said an eyewitness.
 Day after day of ice fell, and finally, on January 10th, it stopped. The constant sound of frozen pellets pattering against peoples roofs were gone There was only the silent joy of the Montrealers.