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2021 vs. 2009: How the winter storms compare

With ice storm warnings in affect across WAVE Country, many are reminded of a similar weather system that devastated Kentucky in 2009.
Updated: Feb. 11, 2021 at 12:57 AM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - With ice storm warnings in affect across WAVE Country, many are reminded of a similar weather system that devastated Kentucky in 2009.

But how does the past compare to the present?

It was 12 years ago in January that a snow and ice storm hit Kentucky hard. It spanned three days, starting Jan. 26 with a wintry mix of freezing rain, then snow overnight. In Louisville, residents saw snow totals 4 to 6 inches deep and ice up to an inch thick.

This week, Louisville is only forecast to see minor ice mounts, with higher totals south.

“Powerlines were off and out, we definitely lost heat in our house,” Matt Evans said.

Evans lived in St. Matthews when the storm hit in 2009. He says he still remember going days without power. He shared that story with WAVE 3 News in 2010 and again Wednesday.

“It was the first for me, one thing you quickly learn is that ice is the equalizer,” he said.

According to the National Weather Servies (NWS), power outages from the 2009 ice storm affected 609,000 homes and businesses across the state. 205,000 lost power in Louisville Metro and it took up to 10 days to get everyone hooked back up.

During a media briefing Wednesday, state officials were asked to compare the ice storm of 2009 to the storm this week.

“The ice storm in 2009 set the benchmark for the state of Kentucky. The disaster recovery and the amount of damage inflected by that storm was history,” Kentucky Emergency Management Director Michael Dossett said. “This will be on the average of something that we face, not routinely, but we have had a number of events of icing the past years, most often it ranges to 1/10 of an inch That’s easily accommodated on our powerlines, certainly.”

Dossett said he hopes there will only be “sporadic” outages. He explained utility companies made preparations by trimming trees around major power lines.

“We don’t expect power outages to be anywhere near the magnitude of 2009,” Gov. Andy Beshear said. “We’ve all learned a lot since 2009. I remember in 2009 sitting in a house without power, listen to trees crack, fall and then hit people’s homes.”

Beshear said he also does not anticipate extended outages.

“You don’t take it lightly, I think that’s my big take away,” Evans said. “You’d rather overprepare and have nothing come of it than to kind of brush it aside and wish you has those provisions or a safety plan in place.”

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