Remembering the Good Friday ice storm
It began as a light rain.
It ended with much of Central Illinois encased in up to two inches of ice, a million or so people without electricity for at least 24 hours, and President Jimmy Carter declaring 24 counties as a disaster area.
“It” was the devastating 1978 Good Friday Ice Storm – a storm that has been called the worst such storm in Illinois history; the storm that began on Good Friday, March 24, leaving people in the dark for up to two weeks.
The winter of 1977-1978 had been exceptionally rugged. By the time March was winding down, the state had been pummeled by a total of 17 severe storms – 12 more than the average. One more severe winter storm was unthinkable.
A gloom hung over Central Illinois as dawn broke on that Good Friday. Cold air was pushing down from the northwest, crashing into warm air. The surface temperature hovered right around the 32°F mark. There was no wind. Conditions were ideal for an ice storm.