HOW DEEP IS IT NOW? Andy Hollifield 3-11-19
Do you remember what tomorrow is? It is the 26th anniversary of The Blizzard Of ’93. It was also called The No Name Storm, The Great Blizzard, Storm Of The Century, and probably a few more names not suitable for publication. It began as a cyclone that formed over the Gulf Of Mexico on March 12th. It’s massive size at its peak stretched from Canada to Honduras. Along with record-breaking amounts of snowfall it also came with hurricane force winds, record low temperatures, over 10 million power outages, and even spawning tornadoes in Florida. It was also an ice storm, nor’easter, extratropical cyclone, and a derecho or strait-line wind storm all depending on where you were at. The lowest recorded temperature of the storm was reported as -12 degrees Farenheit. Eleven tornadoes were confirmed in Florida in the space of just over two and a half hours. The maximum snowfall amount was recorded on Mt. Le Conte in Tennessee at 60 inches with drifts over 35 feet. Mount Mitchell, NC followed closely with 49 inches of snow and drifts of over 14 feet. Other amounts were reported such as 35 inches in Union county in the north Georgia mountains. Even Birmingham, Alabama had 13 inches while the Florida Panhandle had four inches with hurricane-force winds and low barometric pressures. From Louisiana to Cuba, the storm produced high storm surges and was responsible for multiple fatalities. About 40% of the country according to some estimates was affected by the storm. The Army and National Guard was called out and activated in many areas to conduct evacuation and search and rescue efforts as well as humanitarian aid. Many of these troops came from other parts of the country because the affected areas were too snowbound to mobilize.
I am not even going to attempt to talk about squall lines, isobars, jet streams, shortwave troughs, and all that other meteorological stuff that I have no idea what it is. I will say that at my house in Candler, NC we had 22 inches in our front yard. We were fortunate only losing power for 18 and a half hours though there were much longer outages and larger snowfall amounts locally. The funniest thing I remember was watching the weather forecast on WLOS-TV in Asheville, NC that Saturday morning on the 13th. What had started out as a prediction of maybe up to six inches Friday night into Saturday ending mid-morning, by 10:00 AM was already over 10 inches and still pouring down like a heavy rain. It was shortly after that, when local weatherman Bob Caldwell, one of the regions native sons, finally made the most accurate prediction of the storm when he said something to the effect of; “Look out your window people, I don’t know what to tell you. What you see is what you get.” The snow finally ended with flurries on Sunday morning. Although Wikipedia reports that the National Weather Service accurately predicted the storms severity 75 days in advance, that is not how I remember it at all. Our forecast locally had started off at 2-4 then updated to 4-6 inches and maybe once more up to 6-8 inches. The NWS supposedly issued Blizzard Warnings two days before the storm which they may have. It seems like I remember everyone cracking jokes about a four-inch blizzard. I definitely missed the part where they accurately predicted it as I am sure most people did. I suppose many of them missed it because their power was already out by then because of the four inches of snow; yeah right!
I believe it was the Asheville Citizen Times newspaper carried a front page picture of the Atlanta Motor Speedway with the track mostly covered in snow and the bleachers buried in drifts. Damage cost estimates following the storm were figured at around 2 Billion “with a B” and a total of 318 fatalities directly caused by the storm. The area affected was the Eastern US, Canada, Mexico, Cuba, Bahamas, and Bermuda.
You may wonder why I would even write about a bad memory from 26 years ago. I am doing it to help us remember it has been a whole lot worse on this day in the past. So as you are enjoying a forecast of 61 degrees and partly sunny with a low of 42 Tuesday night and maximum winds of 7 miles per hour, think back to 1993 and I am sure the weather now will suit us all just fine. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!