It’s a mess! On the southern flank of the cold arctic air mass which has gripped Chicago and the Midwest in recent days is–and for days, has been—-a mammoth ice storm and a wide swath of travel-disrupting sleet, freezing rain and snow. Its impacts have extended from Texas east into Arkansas and sections of Tennessee and even northern Mississippi.

The impact of the wintry precip has extended to millions, producing traffic accidents, thousands of flight cancellations and closing schools and businesses. And the messy weather continues for a third day–its most disruptive impacts centered Wednesday on Texas and Arkansas.

Here’s how the Associated Press (AP) is covering the late winter meteorological mayhem

Reading of the icy meteorological mess besetting millions from Texas across sections of Arkansas, Tennessee and even northern Mississippi, I’m reminded of the ice storm I witnessed firsthand in March 1976 when I was working in Milwaukee. If anyone had told me early on in my meteorological career that an ICE STORM would be among the most jarring acts of nature I’d witness, I’d have probably thought them crazy. But, turns out, my experience with that ice storm–including surveying the damage it produced—has been one of the most memorable weather events I’ve scene over more than a half century of work in the field.

I remember heavy rain falling into a 29-degree atmosphere–4″ of it—then the onset of roaring wind gusts approaching 60 mph taking down trees and power lines overburdened by a thick, multi-inch coating of ice—as far as the eye could see. I lived at the time in Grafton, WI–north of Milwaukee–and walking out of my apartment, I watched as the horizon flashed for hours as if lightning was flashing in powerful t-storms. What I was seeing is transformers exploding as power lines fell–many down by trees falling under the weight of the ice. Snow plows had to be called out to push fallen trees, some on fire when interacting with sparking downed power lines, to push the debris off roads.

Full forecast details at the WGN Weather Center

At the height of that historic March, 1976 Wisconsin ice storm, which at one point had knocked out power to 600,000 across the Badger State—power lines and even transmission towers were down as were hundred year old trees as 50+ mph came crashing down as wind gusts roared through ice-laden trees, weighed down by the hours of freezing rain.

The sun emerged the day after the icy rains departed illuminating scenes of warlike devastation across ice covered terrain which glistened in otherworldly fashion–as if nature was trying to apologize for the damage it had dispatched to the region. I recall the state trying to get generators to the state’s dairy farms whose electric milking machines had been brought to a standstill by power failures.

The March 1976 Wisconsin ice storm is recounted in this Kenosha News report which includes photos of the ice accumulations and the damage it produced.