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Is Maine better prepared now for a destructive ice storm than it was in 1998?

The historic Ice Storm of 1998 happened about 25 years ago, leaving its mark as one of Maine’s most destructive natural disasters. At one point or another, more than 900,000 Mainers lost power as several inches of ice weighed down utility tree limbs and utility lines. Some were without power in frigid January temperatures for more than two weeks.

Will such a storm happen again? Experts say the ’98 storm was the result of a confluence of very rare conditions, leading to three days of freezing rain that resulted in ice as thick as 3 inches to build up on trees and power lines. The combination of weather systems that resulted in the ice storm could come together again with similar outcomes, experts say, but there is no evidence that climate change will increase the severity or frequency of ice storms.

Meanwhile, Central Maine Power says the infrastructure that makes up its distribution and transmission systems has become more robust in the last 25 years, engineered to handle worsening weather. Maine utilities nowadays also get better weather forecasts; have formal protocols for staging crews when storms threaten, including more out-of-state workers called up through mutual aid pacts; and utilities have better communications, including the ability to inform customers via text alerts and online outage maps.

But what do you think? Do you think Maine is better prepared now for a powerful ice storm than it was in 1998? Tell us in the poll and comments below.

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