From this morning's Paducah Sun: Eerie similarities January storms prove ice, unlike lightning, does strike twice By C.D. Bradley Sunday, February 08, 2009 The storm hit on the night of Jan. 26, leaving Paducah covered in a layer of ice 2 inches thick. Utility poles snapped from the weight, and the whole town lost telephone service. Nearby towns suffered similar losses, and it took weeks to recover. Sound familiar? Well, it’s all happened before. In 1902, 107 years to the day of our recent ice storm, “White Week” descended on Paducah. In a book issued just days after Paducah emerged from the 1902 storm, photographer W.G. McFadden recounted in words and pictures the damage in a book, “Souvenir of Paducah: The Great Sleet Storm of January 1902.” The crumbling volume housed in the McCracken County Library’s local history collection eerily reflects recent events. The storm came in two waves, with the first hitting late Sunday night into Monday morning, and the second two days later. “Thursday morning, Paducah was a city transformed, albeit a city wrecked.” Many of the sights and sounds found themselves mirrored in recent days. “Of 1,200 telephones in the city, less than 38 were in working order,” he wrote. “The sound of trees and tree limbs falling under the burden of the snow and frozen rain filled the woods with sounds like the firing of artillery. “King Winter had laid an embargo on Paducah. But the beauty of it! Every object overhead and under foot was clothed in glittering, glistening white. It was as if nature had sought to cover its ravages with a spotless mantle.” After the storm passed, he wrote, the city “found everywhere traces of the ravages of the elements. Mighty oaks, splintered and split, lay prostrate on the ground or exposed their naked fibers to the winds. “Telegraph and telephone wires, electric light wires, trolley wires and fire alarms wires were mingled together in vast metallic webs. In these tangles, overthrown poles, broken cross-arms, twisted cables and glass insulators were interwoven in picturesque but perplexing confusion.” McFadden reported that the storm’s damage was conservatively estimated at $200,000 in the city and a like amount in the county. David Brasfield, chairman of the economics department at Murray State University, estimated that $200,000 in 1902 would be more than $5 million in today’s terms, based on historic estimates from the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. McFadden prayed the city wouldn’t have to re-experience the ravages of White Week. “While the experience had been worth a great deal, nobody but a stark lunatic or an arctic explorer would care to have it repeated,” McFadden wrote. “The town had never seen anything like it before. The town never wants to see anything like it again.” You can say that again.