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Cupo and Mannix remember the Ice Storm of '98

Joe and Kevin remember the challenges of forecasting the Ice Storm of '98.

(NEWS CENTER Maine) - Meteorologist Joe Cupo forecast all kinds of weather in more than three decades on WCSH6. But one storm stands out above all others.

"Even during the worst of storms you could always see a light at the end of the tunnel. But this was like, where the heck is that light?"

>>VIDEO - Joe Cupo and Kevin Mannix RAW interview

Cupo and fellow NEWS CENTER forecaster Kevin Mannix enjoyed unraveling unusual weather patterns. But neither wanted to be the bearer of the kind of bad tidings they had to deliver in early January 1998.

Mannix and Cupo, both now retired from the weather business, reunited in our studio to take a look back across 20 years.

Mannix says the ice storm was unprecedented in his experience.

"You know, everyone talks about one-in-100 year events or one-in-1000. That's a one in 100 year event or more."

Cupo adds "the conditions have to be so specific to get icing. I mean just 1° either way and it either becomes rain or something else. It becomes sleet, and sleet is no problem, it just bounces when it comes down."

Cupo still has the logs from that unforgettable week showing the hourly weather observations at the Portland Jetport.

"When I looked at these observations, I couldn't believe it-- hour after hour after hour, freezing drizzle, freezing drizzle, freezing drizzle, freezing rain, freezing rain, the temperature just holding up. It didn't go up at night, it didn't go down, it just stayed the same. That's almost unheard of here in the Northeast to have weather stay like that for three days in a row."

Mannix recalls talking with city and state officials as the storm developed.

"(They were) calling me and saying, 'you know, I was watching you this morning and this sounds really bad. Should we be preparing for power outages?' And I was like, 'I think you should not only be preparing for power outages, but long term power outages.'"

Both Mannix and Cupo recall the stories from viewers about power outages, spoiled food, damaged homes and old growth trees falling victim to the ice that just kept building up. And there was just no way to put a positive spin on the forecast.

Cupo says "we live in a place where we always say the weather changes quickly. But the whole thing with that storm was it didn't change for days and days."