AUSTIN (KXAN) — Quality data looking at the historic nature of this recent ice storm is not easy to come by. At Austin’s Camp Mabry, they only installed an ice accretion measuring sensor six years ago.

Other, less official, measurements go back farther in time.

Sometimes the best way to look at how a storm compares is to speak with people who can remember. Who better than KXAN’s former Chief Forecaster Jim Spencer who worked at KXAN for 30 years before semi-retiring in 2021.

Nick Bannin, Meteorologist: Jim, you were a forecaster here at KXAN for 30 years, put this whole several-day ice storm in some historical context for us.

Jim Spencer, senior forecaster at KXAN: “I cannot recall in the 32 years now that I’ve been at KXAN and of course, not a lot the last couple of years. But I can not recall an ice event like this within the city limits of Austin, in which so much ice accumulated on power lines, not even one. We’ve had some ice storms, yes, we’ve got some bad ones, maybe worse ones toward the Hill Country. But in the City, I do not recall an ice storm since I started back in 1990 that puts this much ice across such a wide area of Austin and caused so much tree damage and had such widespread impact. I’m certain I think I’ve heard it on our broadcast earlier that in terms of power outages, I think this may be the worst we’ve ever seen. Now 2021, obviously that was a grid failure, right? In terms of power outages across the city: I think this may be the worst ice storm impact on record, from at least my recollection back to 30-plus years.

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Bannin: The National Weather Service, we’ve been talking to them about any ice storms of record that may in some ways be comparable. They floated 2007 in January and then February of 2003, as ice storms that may have caused, I don’t want to say the same amount of problems, but significant icing those two times. Do you remember those much?

Spencer: Absolutely. And each storm is different and has its own unique characteristics. But the ’07 and ’03 icing events, I don’t think are going to measure up to this one in terms of, again, the widespread nature of the accumulation, and the actual damage that they did. In ’07, Austin was shut down and paralyzed for three days, but most of that was because of ice/sleet/snow accumulation on the roads and you just couldn’t drive. So everybody was stuck at home for two straight days and a big chunk of four days back in ’07. But again, the difference being some sleet and snow was included. It wasn’t all freezing rain, we just don’t get just freezing rain down here very often. I mean, this is very, very rare… I have not seen an ice storm like this one in my 32 years now technically with KXAN.

Bannin: And hopefully we don’t again.

Spencer: Man, how many more weather extremes can we take? We get one a season now. It seems like this is just really too much. I got a limb on my roof, but who knows when they’re going to be able to come in and take that down because they have probably 100,000 calls backed up.