Southern New England ice storm of 1973

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Southern New England ice storm of 1973
Type Ice Storm
Formed December 16, 1973
Dissipated December 17, 1973
Lowest pressure 992 mbar
Maximum snowfall or ice accretion 1 inch of ice, 3-5 inches of rain, 18 inches of snow
Power outages 180,000 at peak of storm
Areas affected Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island.

The Southern New England ice storm of 1973 was a winter storm that caused considerable damage to trees and power lines in parts of Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. While the winter storm also affected New York State, it was not as destructive at that location.

Initial storm[edit]

A low pressure area formed over the Southeastern United States, and moved towards the Northeastern United States. It moved out into the western Atlantic Ocean, and tracked along the east coast of the United States to just east of New Jersey and south of New England. Southern Plymouth County, Massachusetts, Bristol County, Massachusetts, and Cape Cod, Massachusetts, received three to five inches of rain in twenty-four hours that flooded basements, roadways, and low-lying areas. Over the interior of Southern New England cold dense air was entrenched at the surface, and a northerly wind continued to reinforce the cold air. The storm then proceeded north through New England into Canada.


Massachusetts was the hardest hit. At the peak of the storm, one-hundred thousand homes and businesses were without power, and 4,000 homes were without heat, some for as long as 24 hours. Emergency shelters opened in Foster, Rhode Island and Scituate, Rhode Island. There were some street and cellar flooding. Total damage in Rhode Island was estimated greater than $500,000 USD (1973 dollars).

Massachusetts also reported much damage. At the peak of the storm, 80,000 homes and businesses were without power, including 80% of Sudbury, Massachusetts. The Mayor of Marlboro, Massachusetts declared a state of emergency. Twenty streets in Wrentham, Massachusetts were impassable due to downed trees and utilities. A 206 foot Radio Tower in Framingham, Massachusetts collapsed due to the weight of the ice. In Arlington, Massachusetts thirty-five trees were totally destroyed and many old shade trees were destroyed in Concord, Massachusetts. Total damage in Massachusetts was estimated greater than $500,000 USD and less than $5,000,000 USD (1973 dollars). This was the worse icing in Massachusetts since December 1968.

New York was spared the worse of the storm. The southeastern part of New York received five to ten inches of snow, the northern part of the state received six to twelve inches, and the central part of the state received ten to eighteen inches. On Long Island 250,000 residents lost power, some for up to several days. Ice on the third rail of the Long Island Railroad led to passengers to be marooned on trains for seven to ten hours.[1]

The 1994 novel The Ice Storm takes place over Thanksgiving weekend 1973, during a dangerous ice storm.


  1. ^ "Winter's First Bite Takes Toll on L.I." New York Times. December 23, 1973. Retrieved December 17, 2016.
  • "National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Agency" group="Environmental Data Service">"Storm Data" (PDF). Department of Commerce. Retrieved 6 December 2012.
  • "National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Agency" group="NOAA Central Library Data Imaging Project when using the Daily weather maps.">"Weekly Weather Maps December 10–16 & December 17–23". NOAA. Retrieved 6 December 2012.