2002 Central Plains ice storm

The 2002 Central Plains ice storm was a major winter storm that affected the American Midwest, causing significant damage across the region, especially in the Kansas City Metropolitan Area.

2002 Central Plains ice storm
Category 2 "Significant" (RSI: 4.021)
TypeIce storm
Winter storm
FormedJanuary 29, 2002
DissipatedJanuary 31, 2002
Maximum snowfall or ice accretion3 inches of ice
Damage$111 million
Power outages650,000 at peak
FatalitiesAt least 1
Areas affectedKansas, Missouri, Oklahoma.

The initial storm

Up until the point of the storm the weather in Kansas City had been remarkably pleasant; The city appeared to be experiencing a mild winter, and 2 days before the storm the temperature was over 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

According to Weather Central;

An Arctic front moved slowly southward into the Central Plains from January 29 to 30, resulting in a shallow layer of cold air near the surface. Meanwhile, a strong southwesterly jet stream began transporting a large surge of moist air with connections to the tropical Pacific. A strong temperature boundary developed, separating the warm, moist airmass across the southern U.S. from the colder, drier airmass to the north. As surface impulses moved along the frontal boundary, the stage was set for a widespread variety of winter weather. An upper level low progressing eastward across the central Pacific provided the added ingredients for a prolonged precipitation event.


The storm left up to 2 inches of ice over the affected regions on the evening of January 30. Affected infrastructure initially held, but began to crumble as the night wore on. Electric transformers were prone to explosion and in some cases created small fires, and trees shattered under the weight of hundreds of pounds of ice. Larger trees were actually more susceptible to cracking and falling than smaller trees, with pin oak trees falling while twigs remained undamaged. After the 31st, more than 650,000 residents were without power, including 350,000 in the Kansas City metropolitan area alone and 250,000 in Oklahoma. In some cases, power didn't return to residents for nearly 14 days. Approximately 500,000 trees were affected in Kansas City alone, including two "Bicentennial Trees" which were estimated at being over 200 years old. States of emergency were announced by the governors of all three states. Then on the tail end of the storm, some places got snow on top of the ice that had fallen, only worsening the problem.

See also


  • dead link] Kansas City Star coverage of the ice storm
  • dead link] Additional KC Star coverage.
  • dead link] Articles from CEE News, a magazine that served electrical contractors and engineers
  • dead link] A personal account of the storm
  • Another personal account
  • dead link] Weather Central coverage of the storm
  • dead link] Norman, OK NOAA branch article
  • Article regarding Bicentennial Trees
List of ice storms

This is a list of ice storms that are described in Wikipedia articles.

North Carolina ice storm of 2002

The North Carolina ice storm of 2002 caused up to an inch of freezing rain from December 4–5 in central North Carolina. A total of 24 people were killed, and as many as 1.8 million people were left without electricity on December 6. Power outages began December 4, and power was not completely restored to until December 14. Raleigh received the most freezing rain from a single storm since 1948, and Bristol, Tennessee received the most ice it had seen in 28 years. The storm also produced heavy rain in both the mountains and coastal plain of North Carolina. Much of the Southern Plains and the Northeast received snow with this system.

During the power outages many residents used propane and kerosene powered generators and heaters to combat the cold, with some resorting to moving charcoal grills indoors to heat their households. The increased usage of these heating methods, particularly grills led to a substantial number of cases of carbon monoxide poisoning. Varying reports allege 48 to 200 cases of poisoning. Hispanic residents were disproportionately affected by the impacts of the ice storm, sustaining 23% of total injuries and 65% of carbon monoxide poisonings during the storm period.

18th–19th century
20th century
21st century

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