Halloween ice storm 20 years later - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Halloween ice storm 20 years later


ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- The east coast was pounded with a major snow storm just in time for Halloween this year.  Anyone living in Minnesota 20 years ago knows exactly what that feels like.  In 1991 what started as a rain storm quickly turned the city and surrounding counties into a skating rink.  To relive this historic storm we found an RPU lineman who was in the trenches and former KTTC meteorologist Mike Barsic, who was tracking the Halloween Storm.

"It was bikini compared to that day you know," said Sam Gardner a Lineman for Rochester Public Utilities.

For Sam Gardner the one thing from today that was similar to October 31st of 1991 was that he was working. The difference, the weather.

"It was miserable, it was cold and wet and nobody was ready for that in Halloween, its a little early," said Gardner

"Well we really didn't know exactly what was going to happen, hour by hour, but as it continued to rain and freeze and rain and freeze we realized that we were actually in the ice storm part of the storm where the snow was a little further to the north," said Mike Barsic, a former KTTC meteorologist.

"The wires get that pretty good build up of ice,"  Gardner said. "The wire is as big around as your thumb, normally it will be near as big as your wrist with that much ice on it. That's a lot of weight."

With ice accumulations in the ball park of 2-3 inches, you can imagine the need for emergency responders and utility workers.

"There were quite a few guys that worked 36 hours straight, you know that will wear on you no matter what you're doing. A lot of tired guys after a couple of days," said Gardner

You may have heard the saying you don't know what you've got until its gone. Some places in Southern Minnesota and Northern Iowa were taken back to the stone age for weeks as crews tried to repair downed power lines and snapped poles.

"People get pretty happy to see you, its probably the only time thy do after a couple of days. There's nothing much you can do without electricity except a flashlight and a good book,"  Gardner added

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