It's official: Ice storm breaks Peco record for winter outages

peco-1994-ice-storm
Linesman Joe Gotzon working at the top of a pole in Tredyffrin Township on Jan. 12, 1994, as crews from Peco and PP&L restored power to homes that had been in the dark for several days after a severe ice storm. (Scott S. Hamrick / Staff)

Updated 2/7/2014

Tuesday's ice storm was so devastating to Southeastern Pennsylvania that Peco set an outage record for any winter storm.

As of midday Friday, the cumulative total had grown to about 715,000 homes and businesses that lost power at some point. For all seasons, only Superstorm Sandy, which hit in late October 2012, knocked more customers off the grid.

Let's be clear: In terms of human beings affected, the numbers are surely much higher. These are billing accounts, or addresses, not people. More than half of Peco's suburban customers lost power, so it's reasonable to estimate that perhaps 1.5 million of the 2.5 million residents of Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Bucks County lost electricity, though Peco said it didn't track that data.  

Officially, here are the 12 highest outage totals in the history of Peco, which goes back more than 100 years.

1. 850,000 lost power, Superstorm Sandy, Oct. 29, 2012
2. 715,000 and rising, ice storm, Feb. 4, 2014
3. 549,100, ice storm, Jan. 7, 1994
4. 517,343, Hurricane Isabel, Sept. 18, 2003
5. 508,048, Hurricane Irene, Aug. 27, 2011
6. 483,131, wind, lightning, July 18, 2006
7. 408,822, Hurricane Floyd, Sept. 16,1999
8. 400,000-plus, winter storm, March 20, 1958
9. 369,511, Hurricane Hazel, Oct. 15, 1954
10. 334,987, tornado, May 31, 1998
11. 326,019, summer storm, June 24, 2010
12. 320,215, wind, lightning, July 16, 1980

Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or pmucha@phillynews.com.

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