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Superstorm 1993: 25 Years Ago This Upcoming Week
Published: March 8, 2018
The recent onslaught of nor'easters, Riley and Quinn, and the chance of a third nor'easter next week brings us to an important benchmark in American weather history — a quarter century since THE Storm of the Century.
This storm clobbered one of the largest areas ever recorded with snow. It affected more than 100 million people of the eastern U.S. over a four-day period from March 12-15, 1993. Even areas as far away as Cuba and Canade were affected by the massive storm.
While the nor'easters of 2018 can't really compare to the impact the 1993 Superstorm had, this silver anniversary offers a chance to look back and understand what storms that strike this time of year are capable of.
As you can see in the video linked above, the impacts of the 1993 Superstorm were stunning. A storm surge resembling that of a hurricane struck all along Florida's Gulf Coast ... during the winter months! Near whiteout conditions were seen in some of the most unlikely places, such as on Peachtree Street in Atlanta, for example!
In all, 270 people were killed in 13 U.S. states from Florida to Maine. Total estimated damage in the U.S. was $5.5 billion in 1993 dollars, more costly than several U.S. tropical cyclones. Every major airport on the East Coast was closed at one time or another due to the storm. Most interstates north of Atlanta were closed.
As staggering as this storm was, it was also a shining moment for the science of weather forecasting; the 1993 Superstorm is widely considered to be the first major storm correctly predicted by computer models five days in advance, a feat that has since become much more common as computing power has increased and research has improved our understanding of the atmosphere.
Here are some amazing Superstorm '93 facts courtesy of NOAA's National Climatic Data Center:
- Thousands of people were isolated by record snow, especially in the Southeast.
- An incredible 60 inches of snow fell on Mount Le Conte in Tennessee's Great Smoky Mountains.
- Double-digit snowfall totals were measured in 20 states from Alabama to Maine.
- 17" of snow and 6-foot drifts near Birmingham, Ala.; 10-foot drifts in Latrobe, Pa.
- Up to 6 inches of snow in the Florida Panhandle.
- Hundreds of roof collapses reported due to the weight of snow.
- Over 200 hikers had to be rescued from the mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina.
- Four states set all-time statewide records for deepest snow: Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Maryland.
- 200 homes on North Carolina's Outer Banks were damaged.
- At least 18 homes were lost to the sea along the Long Island shore.
- 235 rescues conducted by the Coast Guard in the Gulf of Mexico alone.
- 12-foot storm surge in Taylor County, Fla., with surge flooding over much of Florida's Gulf Coast.
Tornadoes, high winds
- Derecho raced across Florida on March 13; 109-mph wind gust measured in the Dry Tortugas.
- Embedded supercells spawned 11 tornadoes in Florida.
- The summit of Mount Washington, N.H., clocked a gust of 144 mph.
- Other notable gusts: Havana, Cuba (100 mph); Myrtle Beach (90 mph); Boston (81 mph); LaGuardia Airport in New York (71 mph).
- High winds combined with the record-breaking snowfall to produce widespread blizzard conditions from the Deep South to New England.
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