The January 1998 Ice Storm Montreal, Quebec, Canada

All text and images copyrighted by Stephen McDonnell

Fast Facts on the 1998 Ice Storm and its Aftermath

Latest Figures | Historical Perspective | Facts and Figures | Canadian Military Dispatch | PDFs


46 people died in the Ice Storm, Billions of dollars in Damages

(Figures quoted from Montreal Newspaper La Presse 1998)

  • Province of Quebec pop. 7.4 million

3.2 million people lost electricity, some for 34 days, 450 shelters setup, 17,800 refugees, 30 deaths

  • New York State pop. 13 million

300,000 people lost electricity, some for 21 days, 150 shelters set up, 7000 refugees, 9 deaths

  • Maine pop. 1.2 million

600,000 people lost electricity, some for 17 days, 196 shelters set up, 3500 refugees, 5 deaths

  • New Hampshire 1.3 million

140,000 people lost electricity, some for 8 days, 38 shelters set up, 700 refugees, 2 deaths

  • Vermont pop. 575,000

33,000 people lost electricity, some for 10 days, 24 shelters set up, 1000 refugees, 0 deaths

More health problems are expected due to ice related injuries and the long term effects of stress, hypothermia and toxic fumes from heating devices. Thousands of farm animals died or were put down due to disease or hyper/hypothermia. Estimated costs of ice storm for the Province of Quebec in Canadian Dollars : 1 billion dollars of insurance claims, 3 billion dollars of lost income to businesses, 1 billion dollars for Hydroelectric infrastructure repairs, 1 billion dollars for Provincial governmental expenses, and millions of dollars for Federal military costs.


NDG Loyola High School Shelter Figures

John Richardson, a city of Montreal employee in Sports, Recreation, and Social Development Departmenet said at the Saturday March 28th 1998, at an "Ice Storm Stories" meeting that "We should give enormous credit to Loyola High School." He provided the following information:

The Loyola High School shelter was open for 9 days

Over 10,000 meals were served

A total of 1,338 refugees stayed at the shelter (overnight) and ages ranged from10 days old to 91 years old

37 Loyola faculty and their families also stayed at Loyola

425 volunteers worked with city and provincial employees to help the refugees in the shelter

Historical Perspective

James R. Fleming, associate professor of science at Colby College, Maine, USA, current chairman of the historical committee of the American Meteorological Association was quoted as saying about the 1998 ice storm in Eastern Canada and United States, "So far this century there has been nothing like it. We did live through a history-making kind of event - you'll be telling your grandchildren about this. It certainly was an extremely damaging event for us and Canada. It will probably make the meteorological textbooks - even history books - as one of the biggest storms ever." The professor added that 1997 was the warmest year ever recorded globally, but a cooling trend in the Northern Hemisphere averaged out temperatures in North America to seasonal levels. Fleming, whose second book, "Historical Prospectives on Climate Change," is due out this spring, said global warming was not the cause of the special conditions that led to the storm - but El Nino was.

More Facts and Figures

According to a story which ran in The Hartford Courant NU Crews Return From Battle Up North written by Larry Smith January 25, 1998: Jarvis Langelier of Hydro Quebec power company was quoted as having said that "more than 20,000 miles of transmission lines were knocked down by the ice storms and 60,000 miles of distribution lines to homes. "(My emphasis) " Here is another quote from one of the 247 people from Connecticut Northeast Utilities people helping Quebec Hydro for the past three weeks.``It was like working in a war zone,'' said Jim LaChance, system restoration administrator. ``Literally for a hundred square miles no power. In my 27 years, this is the worst storm I've ever seen.''

  • @1000 electrical pylons destroyed:
  • 130 Large Pylons for 735 Kilovolts transformers: Destroyed
  • 60 Medium Pylons for 315 Kilovolts: Destroyed
  • 80 Pylons for 120 Kilovolts: Destroyed
  • 25,000 transmissions poles (wooden beams): Destroyed
  • 6 out of every 10 residents of the 6 million residents of Quebec lost electricity at some point during the storm
  • 1 in 4 had to seek refuge with friends or family during the crisis
  • 1 in 4 had to take in family or friends
  • 61.5 % lost power at some point during the ice storm: 40% for more than 1 day, more than 10% for more than a week. As of Jan 27th, a month after the beginning of the storm, there are still homes without electricity.
  • Total estimated cost and rising: 2 Billion Canadian Dollars for the province of Quebec alone.
  • Figures quoted from the Montreal Gazette, The Toronto Globe and Mail and La Presse

Canadian Military Dispatch "Operation Recuperation"

The Canadian Forces was tasked to provide support to provincial authorities of Quebec, Ontario and New Brunswick. The total number of military personnel deployed reached a peak of approximately 15,875 (including 3,741 reservists). Approximately 200 Canadian Forces units participated in this operation, the largest Canadian Forces' humanitarian assistance mobilization in peacetime. For comparison purposes, approximately 15,930 Canadian Forces personnel were deployed for the Montreal Olympics in 1976 and 8,612 to Manitoba for the flood of 1997.

These TWO LARGE PDF files have a wealth of official informationed garned by the Americans and Canadian Governments:

Click on them to down load, or view them if you have the Adobe Acrobat Viewer installed in your browser plug ins.

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Click here to download Large pdf file from US corps of engineers 1.9 megs

Click here to download Large pdf file from Statistics Canada 2.3 megs

Official report on storm in US and Canada web page in html