Rochester Ice Storm - March 3 & 4, 1991

292 Susquehanna Road; Brighton, New York

This was the view that greeted us as we stood in the driveway and looked at Sue's car in front of the garage. The big willow? tree had come down draping its' icy branches all around both the garage and Sue's car. Luckily, it had fallen at just the right angle so as not to crush anything. The only real damage was to the outside rearview mirror which an errant branch had shattered.


Sue and I had gone to Philadelphia for the weekend. To save money and in the interest of conservation, we had lowered the heat significantly before departing. After an exhausting, fun-filled couple of days, we made the long drive back to Rochester, arriving home late Sunday night March 3 to a rather cool house. As soon as we got the car unloaded and the back door shut, the thermostat setting was returned to normal. I think we kept our jackets on for awhile since it was so nippy inside.

It was our first winter in this house. The boiler had been replaced just before we moved in, but the antique one pipe steam heat system was dated. Over the months we had become accustomed to the sound of huffing and puffing from the radiators whenever the boiler ran. So this night as others, the radiator calliope began. Slowly and melodically they brought our home back up to 70 degrees from the low 50's it had drifted to over the weekend. Little did we know it would be the last radiator concert the house would give us for a while.

We had driven through rain all day, but soon after getting home the rain had turned to ice, yet we thought nothing of it. Things were put away, preparations for the workweek were done and finally it was bedtime. Sleep came quickly and soundly; but it was interrupted around 1:30am when Sue nudged me to say the familiar glow of the clock was off. I mumbled something about the power...nothing I could do, rolled over...and was out again, just like the lights. Of course we did not realize it at the time, but that moment when our power (and furnace) went out, it was not to return any time soon! I doubt the house had even returned to a normal room temperature before the boiler went silent.

A couple more hours had passed when Sue nudged me again and said the tree in the backyard had fallen. This time I crawled out of bed and went into the other bedroom to look out a window. It was totally dark and nothing could really be seen. However, the crashing sounds of tree branches falling could be heard from every direction. It was very eerie, like in being in a war zone with random explosions detonating all around. What we were hearing were limbs large and small dropping to the ground as the weight of the ice caused them to break off.

That was the end of sleepytime, for the next couple hours we listened to the sounds, getting up every so often to peer out the window into the darkness. As the sun came up we finally were able to see. Tree branches were down all around, those remaining had tons of ice burdening them...and the ice kept coming from the sky. The storm finally tapered off Monday March 4 in the early afternoon, after more then 16 hours. For miles around everything standing was coated by more then an inch of ice. The falling trees and power lines and subsequent loss of power brought the area to a virtual standstill.....for days.

The power went out, along with the phone and cable, not to return for nine days to our house.

Incredibly the ice coated everything but the roads! If a street was not blocked by fallen limbs, which was rarely the case initially, it was easily navigable with a vehicle. However, traffic lights were out at most intersections and all the street lighting was off at night. The whole area went dark and cold for a couple weeks before things finally began to return to normal. It was a very interesting experience living in Rochester for those couple weeks. What follows are a few pictures that we took around our house and neighborhood soon after the storm.

Our town of Brighton deployed their heavy equipment to move fallen tree branches to the sides on the road during that first day. People were only beginning to grasp the full extent of the storm damages that first night.



Looking down Susquehanna from the corner; our house, third one on the right, is hidden from view.


This was the view around the corner on Bradford Road.


Our neighbors garage took a tree and lost a gutter too

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This is a different view of the big tree that came down in our yard, the garage is hidden behind. Notice our house wiring trailing down to the ground and under the tree. However, it was likely a smaller tree at the rear of the yard that was resposible for knocking out our power initially.


Looking from our backyard into the neighbors yard at rear. Notice the telephone pole which carries all the wires to the neighboring houses.


The magnolia tree in the front decided to split, although it continued to bloom each year, this tree was really hurt by the storm.


A few days after the storm and most of the ice had dissappeared I took a little stroll up the fallen tree trunk.


We temporarily relocated the outdoor thermometer to the living room, and as indicated by the needle it was a bit brisk in the house.

We managed to tough it out at our house for the first week. Oddly enough our hot water heater had kept working since it didn't need electricity to operate, so hot water and showers were available. However, living by flashlight was getting old by the start of the second week, so we accepted the invite from my good friend Bruce Morgan and stayed at his house until our lights came back on.


Now if only the power company guys would come along and hook these back up.


No power, no TV, no cable, no phone....might as well go cut some branches....


Ten days after the lights and everything else but the hot water went out...we finally had electricity restored on March 14th. The phone finally came back a few days later but cable took longer. However, Rochester got a nice fiber cable system as a result.

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