1991 in Rochester: ‘Ice storm of the century’ was exactly 30 years ago

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Wednesday marks 30 years exactly since Rochester’s “ice storm of the century.”

The storm arrived on Sunday, March 3rd 1991 and would leave tens of thousands without power for days, and some for weeks.

The ice event began around 10:30 p.m. that evening and freezing rain fell for about 17 hours. The city alone lost more than 10,000 trees.

“It took me nearly 45 minutes to make what usually was a 10 minute drive home,” News 8 anchor John Kucko recalled. “I remember saying to my wife ‘we’re getting the mother of all ice storms right now’ when I arrived home, but little did I know just how bad it was going to get.

“By 5 a.m. the next morning, I awoke to what I thought were gunshots outside,” Kucko said. “It was trees crashing to the ground, transformers exploding. It looked like the apocalypse had arrived in the region.”

Kucko said his family lost power for a week, and he considers himself lucky as 750,000 in the area would lose access to electricity from the storm.

A dozen counties were declared natural disaster areas, and more than $375 million in damage occurred.

Have photos or memories from the 1991 ice storm? Send them to us through our Report It! page, email newsroom@wroctv.com, or send them to our station’s Facebook, or Twitter.

Memories

Connie D. — I remember driving in from Fredonia to check on my grandmother … the memory of only candles and lanterns in house windows is still strong.

David K. — You’re making me feel old! I was in graduate school at RIT back then and would to go RIT for heat and power, once my parents house lost power for a week!

Lisa L. — My boys and I pitched a tent in our living room and our kerosene heater was our fire place. No electric for a week. Candles for light, roads not plowed here for a week. Looking back it was an adventure. My boys were 3 and 5.

Tom L. — What a crazy ice storm that was. I’d never seen anything like it, and I’ll never forget it.

Debra O. — I remember getting an extra seven people and one dog in a two-bedroom apartment! We already had a 1-year-old and a dog. Loved having the family with us. We ate great as everyone was bringing food from their freezer

Sam. A — My neighbors owned a local ice cream shop and sold ice cream cakes. They brought cakes to all the neighbors to eat before they melted. We had ice cream cake for breakfast.

Mari P. — I remember it very well. Me and my friends went out that Sunday and when I drove home that night I had to cut through other ways to get home. It was terrible, branches falling off trees.

Shelly A. — My parents lived in Penfield, mom worked at The Manhattan Restaurant at the time, they had power and water and were feeding half of Penfield, my folks had a wood burning stove that kept the downstairs warm … good times.

Barbara K. — It still has an impact on what I do in the winter. I plan for the power to go out. When we moved, I made sure the house had a fireplace and we put a wood stove in it so we could heat at least a couple of rooms and cook on it. I have horses so when a storm is coming, I plan for their water, too. I plan for a week where nothing and no help is coming.

Gail H. — Ah, remember it well. We were without power for at least a week. We survived by enclosing our family room with blankets and quilts. The fireplace was constantly going even through the night. We cooked in the fireplace and we all slept on the couches and chairs. During the day we were able to go out and collect tons of fire wood for the next year.

Kelly M. — I had just had my 12th birthday party and someone left a Game Boy! It helped us get through it all! The power at my school was out so long they sent us to another school for a week (I think?). I misread instructions on writing a short story on the whole ordeal later and ended up with a whole spiral notebook filled with the story! I’d love to be able to find that.

Mary Beth C. — No power for two weeks. Our six-month old puppy loved laying by the fire every night! What a storm is was … beautiful and scary at the same time

Cheryl O. — Devastation was all around, but we were lucky enough to not lose power. We had a lot of people over for two weeks.

Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.

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