December 2008 Northeast ice storm
The December 2008 ice storm of New England
New England
New England is a region in the northeastern corner of the United States consisting of the six states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut...

 and Upstate New York
Upstate New York
Upstate New York is the region of the U.S. state of New York that is located north of the core of the New York metropolitan area.-Definition:There is no clear or official boundary between Upstate New York and Downstate New York...

 was a damaging ice storm
Ice storm
An ice storm is a type of winter storm characterized by freezing rain, also known as a glaze event or in some parts of the United States as a silver thaw. The U.S. National Weather Service defines an ice storm as a storm which results in the accumulation of at least of ice on exposed surfaces...

 that took out power
Electric power
Electric power is the rate at which electric energy is transferred by an electric circuit. The SI unit of power is the watt.-Circuits:Electric power, like mechanical power, is represented by the letter P in electrical equations...

 for millions of people in those regions. The storm was deemed the worst ice storm in a decade for New England and the most severe in 21 years for Upstate New York. Damage was primarily a result of fallen trees and fallen utility wires and poles
Utility pole
A utility pole is a pole used to support overhead power lines and various other public utilities, such as cable, fibre optic cable, and related equipment such as transformers and street lights. It can be referred to as a telephone pole, power pole, hydro pole, telegraph pole, or telegraph post,...

, which were coated in a heavy layer of ice. The storm raised heavy controversy over the slow return of power, as at the storm's peak as many as 1.7 million customers were without power. Days after the storm more than 800,000 customers were still without power. Almost a week after the storm still more than 100,000 customers were without power, affecting the holiday shopping season and crippling the business and transportation of many northeast cities for days.


The storm resulted in a state of emergency
State of emergency
A state of emergency is a governmental declaration that may suspend some normal functions of the executive, legislative and judicial powers, alert citizens to change their normal behaviours, or order government agencies to implement emergency preparedness plans. It can also be used as a rationale...

 being declared by Governor
Governor of New York
The Governor of the State of New York is the chief executive of the State of New York. The governor is the head of the executive branch of New York's state government and the commander-in-chief of the state's military and naval forces. The officeholder is afforded the courtesy title of His/Her...

 David Paterson
David Paterson
David Alexander Paterson is an American politician who served as the 55th Governor of New York, from 2008 to 2010. During his tenure he was the first governor of New York of African American heritage and also the second legally blind governor of any U.S. state after Bob C. Riley, who was Acting...

 in sixteen counties in New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

. Up to 300,000 utility customers lost service in New York's Capital District
Capital District
New York's Capital District, also known as the Capital Region, is a region in upstate New York that generally refers to the four counties surrounding Albany, the capital of the state: Albany County, Schenectady County, Rensselaer County, and Saratoga County...

. By Sunday evening, 14 December, 126,000 were still estimated to be without power.

Fire departments in Albany
Albany County, New York
Albany County is a county located in the U.S. state of New York, and is part of the Albany-Schenectady-Troy Metropolitan Statistical Area. The name is from the title of the Duke of York and Albany, who became James II of England . As of the 2010 census, the population was 304,204...

 and Rensselaer County
Rensselaer County, New York
Rensselaer County is a county in the U.S. state of New York. As of the 2010 census, the population was 159,429. Its name is in honor of the family of Kiliaen van Rensselaer, the original Dutch owner of the land in the area. Its county seat is Troy...

 ran non-stop all weekend answering calls ranging from fires to wires down. It is estimated that both counties received tens of thousands of calls by the Saturday after the storm.

In Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

 up to one million residents and businesses lost power due to the storm, causing Governor
Governor of Massachusetts
The Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is the executive magistrate of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, United States. The current governor is Democrat Deval Patrick.-Constitutional role:...

 Deval Patrick
Deval Patrick
Deval Laurdine Patrick is the 71st and current Governor of Massachusetts. A member of the Democratic Party, Patrick served as an Assistant United States Attorney General under President Bill Clinton...

 to declare a state of emergency and mobilize at least 500 national guardsmen to help the clean-up efforts.

Governors John Lynch of New Hampshire
New Hampshire
New Hampshire is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. The state was named after the southern English county of Hampshire. It is bordered by Massachusetts to the south, Vermont to the west, Maine and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the Canadian...

 and John Baldacci
John Baldacci
John Elias Baldacci is an American politician who served as the 73rd Governor of the U.S. state of Maine from 2003 until 2011. A Democrat, he also served as a member of the United States House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003....

 of Maine
Maine is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and south, New Hampshire to the west, and the Canadian provinces of Quebec to the northwest and New Brunswick to the northeast. Maine is both the northernmost and easternmost...

 also declared a state of emergency, and as of 13 December at least 400,000 customers were without power in New Hampshire, and at least 172,000 were without power in Maine. This total in New Hampshire was more than five times larger than those who lost power in the ice storm of 1998
North American ice storm of 1998
The North American ice storm of 1998 was a massive combination of five smaller successive ice storms which combined to strike a relatively narrow swath of land from eastern Ontario to southern Quebec to Nova Scotia in Canada, and bordering areas from northern New York to central Maine in the...

, previously the most devastating storm on record.

It has also been reported that over 30,000 customers were without power in Vermont
Vermont is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. The state ranks 43rd in land area, , and 45th in total area. Its population according to the 2010 census, 630,337, is the second smallest in the country, larger only than Wyoming. It is the only New England...

 and up to 3,700 were without power in Connecticut
Connecticut is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It is bordered by Rhode Island to the east, Massachusetts to the north, and the state of New York to the west and the south .Connecticut is named for the Connecticut River, the major U.S. river that approximately...


The American Red Cross
American Red Cross
The American Red Cross , also known as the American National Red Cross, is a volunteer-led, humanitarian organization that provides emergency assistance, disaster relief and education inside the United States. It is the designated U.S...

 of Northeastern New York opened multiple shelters
Emergency shelter
Emergency shelters are places for people to live temporarily when they can't live in their previous residence, similar to homeless shelters. The main difference is that an emergency shelter typically specializes in people fleeing a specific type of situation, such as natural or man-made disasters,...

 around the Capital District to give residents a warm place to stay and eat.


At least four deaths were attributed to the storm. Three of them were due to carbon monoxide poisoning
Carbon monoxide poisoning
Carbon monoxide poisoning occurs after enough inhalation of carbon monoxide . Carbon monoxide is a toxic gas, but, being colorless, odorless, tasteless, and initially non-irritating, it is very difficult for people to detect...

, the source of which were gas-powered generators
Diesel generator
A diesel generator is the combination of a diesel engine with an electrical generator to generate electrical energy....

 that were used indoors. One carbon-monoxide
Carbon monoxide
Carbon monoxide , also called carbonous oxide, is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas that is slightly lighter than air. It is highly toxic to humans and animals in higher quantities, although it is also produced in normal animal metabolism in low quantities, and is thought to have some normal...

-related death was in New Hampshire, and the other two were in New York. The fourth fatality occurred in Massachusetts. A public works
Public works
Public works are a broad category of projects, financed and constructed by the government, for recreational, employment, and health and safety uses in the greater community...

 employee was found in a reservoir
A reservoir , artificial lake or dam is used to store water.Reservoirs may be created in river valleys by the construction of a dam or may be built by excavation in the ground or by conventional construction techniques such as brickwork or cast concrete.The term reservoir may also be used to...

 after having gone missing when investigating damage to trees.


Hotels, hardware stores, malls, and restaurants that either had power or a generator saw a boom in business during the entire weekend as many residents went out to finish up holiday shopping, eat, and stay warm. Most schools closed on Friday, 12 December, and some colleges ended the semester early due to the severity of the storm.

Fourteen days after the storm hit, several thousand homes throughout New Hampshire were still without power, which in some cases resulted in threats being made against workers of Public Service Company of New Hampshire (a subsidiary of Northeast Utilities
Northeast Utilities
Northeast Utilities is a publicly-traded, Fortune 500 energy company headquartered in Berlin, Connecticut, with several regulated subsidiaries offering retail electricity and natural gas service to more than 2.1 million customers in New England....

), the principal electricity supplier of New Hampshire.

Similarly, there were many people in Massachusetts without power for up to two weeks, raising many questions about the slow response of some utility companies.

Several weeks after the New England storm, a similar ice storm struck the Midwestern United States
Midwestern United States
The Midwestern United States is one of the four U.S. geographic regions defined by the United States Census Bureau, providing an official definition of the American Midwest....

, knocking out power to a million people and leading to at least 38 deaths.

Media and coverage

The storm and its aftermath were covered extensively by local newspapers such as The Keene Sentinel and the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
The Monadnock Ledger-Transcript is a twice-weekly newspaper based in Peterborough, New Hampshire and covering the Monadnock Region. It was formed in September 2006, when the 50-year-old Monadnock Ledger bought the 150-year-old Peterborough Transcript...

in New Hampshire. Books detailing the storm's toll include The Weight of the Ice by David Eisenstadter, Black Ice compiled from various New Hampshire authors, and Ice by the staff of The Keene Sentinel.


Image:20081214-shrewsbury-ice-storm-damage-looking-towards-church-1.jpg|Shrewsbury, Massachusetts
Shrewsbury, Massachusetts
-Demographics:As of the census of 2000, there were 31,640 people, 12,366 households, and 8,693 families residing in the town. The population density was . There were 12,696 housing units at an average density of...

 town square after the storm
Image:2008NYSIceStorm2.JPG|Power lines support ice-covered branches in Brunswick, New York
Brunswick, New York
Brunswick is a town in Rensselaer County, New York, United States that was originally settled in the early 18th century. During its history, it had been part of Albany County, Rensselaerswyck, and Troy, before its incorporation in 1807...

Image:December 2008 ice storm Dutchess County 3.JPG|Landscape coated in ice in Dutchess County, New York
Dutchess County, New York
Dutchess County is a county located in the U.S. state of New York, in the state's Mid-Hudson Region of the Hudson Valley. The 2010 census lists the population as 297,488...

Image: Frozen_blades_of_grass_in_southern_nh.JPG| Frozen blades of grass in Hillsborough County, New Hampshire
Hillsborough County, New Hampshire
-Demographics:As of the census of 2000, there were 380,841 people, 144,455 households, and 98,807 families residing in the county. The population density was 435 people per square mile . There were 149,961 housing units at an average density of 171 per square mile...

Image: Downed tree snowmobile path dec 2008.JPG| A broken tree branch, suspended from luckier trees, hanging over a snowmobile path in a forest in Hillsborough County, New Hampshire
Image: Frozen evergreens december 2008 ice storm.JPG| A frozen forest in Hillsborough County, New Hampshire
Image: Frozen forest behind swingset dec 2008 ice storm.JPG| A frozen forest behind a swingset in Hillsborough County, New Hampshire
Image: Frozen lawn with trees december 2008 ice storm.JPG| A frozen lawn and trees with houses in background, Hillsborough County, New Hampshire
Image: 2008NYSIceStorm.JPG|Damage in North Greenbush, New York
North Greenbush, New York
North Greenbush is a town in Rensselaer County, New York, United States. North Greenbush is located in the western part of the county. The population was 10,805 at the 2000 census....

 after the storm
Image: Winter_08_124.jpg|Damage in Clifton Park, New York
Clifton Park, New York
Clifton Park is a town in Saratoga County, New York, United States. According to the United States Census Bureau, the 2009 population estimate for Clifton Park was 36,469. The name is derived from an early land patent...

 after the storm
File:December 2008 ice storm damage at Storm King trailhead.jpg|Damage at the Storm King Mountain trailhead, Cornwall, New York
Cornwall, New York
Cornwall is a town in Orange County, New York, USA. It is located about 50 miles north of New York City on the western shore of the Hudson River. The estimated population in 2007 was 12,827....

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