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All About the Blizzard of ’93

| 10:40 am March 13, 2007 | Comments (12)

As early as March 8, 1993, some long-range weather models were hinting at a humongous winter storm event for the East Coast of the USA. It proved to be amazingly accurate.

Along the Texas Gulf Coast early on the morning of March 12, 1993, a low pressure area was beginning to deepen rapidly. It was already gathering an unbelievable amount of moisture from our old friend, the Gulf of Mexico.

PS: Here I go again. I often wonder what the big 1993 storm would have been like if we did not have our old friend, the Gulf of Meciso.

Back to the story…by Friday evening, oil rigs off the Louisiana coast were reporting wind gusts to hurricane force. The storm had already become a monster. It eventually brought the first widespread blizzard in history to parts of the Southern USA.

Dr. John Knox, a Birmingham native and now a research scientist at the University of Georgia (he received his doctor’s degree in atmospheric science at the University of Wisconsin). He co-authored an excellent college-level instructor’s meteorology book with the title of “Meteorology, Understanding the Atmosphere.” Naturally, being from Birmingham, he wrote about the Blizzard of ’93. He told how the atmosphere became so unstable that thunderstorms developed in the cold air, which helped the storm to dump several inches of snow each hour on Birmingham. There was a lot of eerie green lightning followed by the muffled sound of thunder. With the atmosphere overloaded with big snowflakes, part of the sound of thunder was absorbed. John mentioned that a radio tower on Red Mountain was struck 12 times by that eerie lightning. He also wrote about 50 University of Wisconsin students en route to Panama City getting stranded in Birmingham, when their bus skidded off a road.

TRACKING THE LOW PRESSURE AREA
1. Centered over the NW Gulf of Mexico early on March 12, 1,000 millibars.
2. Over the North-Central Gulf, 6:00 p.m., Friday, March 12, 984 MB
3. Near Savannah at daybreak on Saturday, March 13, 971 MB
4. Near the eastern shore of Maryland, 6:00 p.m. Saturday, 960 MB
5. Near Portland, Maine, 6:00 a.m., Sunday, 964 MB

As Bill Murray pointed out, this made it as strong as a Category 3 hurricane considering the pressure. From the Northern Gulf, the low moved on shore near Cedar Key in the Big Bend area of NW Florida. Winds on land gusted over 110 miles mph with a great deal of damage. There were a number of tornadoes and a number of fatalities.

In our earlier post, we mentioned some of the Eastern USA snow amounts. We repeat just a few.

20 inches in Chattanooga
4 inches in Atlanta (snow covered the north half of Georgia)
50 inches on Mt. Mitchell, North Carolina
18 inches at Asheville
40 inches at High Knob, Virginia
28 inches at Lake of the Woods, Virginia
30 inches at Frostburg, Maryland
36 inches at Latrobe, Pennsylvania with 6 to 10 foot drifts
40 inches at Halcott Center, New York

Dover, Delaware had the honor of reporting the lowest pressure in this giant storm–28.41 inches at 8:00 p.m. on March 13.

ALABAMA SNOW AMOUNTS
It was one of those very rare times, when all 67 counties in Alabama had a snow cover. Here is a selection:

20 inches at Walnut Grove
17 inches at Valley Head
16 inches in Oneonta and Bessemer
13 inches at Anniston, Talladega, Pinson, Birmingham
12 inches at Thomasville, Childersburg, Scottsboro
11 inches at Sylacauga
10 inches at Cullman, Clanton and Heflin
9 inches in Thorsby
8 inches in Ashland, Centreville, Moulton and Guntersville
7 inches in Alexander City, Huntsville and Whatley
6 inches in Camden, Evergreen, Jasper, Livingston, Andalusia, Haleyville and Highland Home
5 inches in Auburn, Winfield, Muscle Shoals and Chatom
4 inches in Montgomery, Union Springs, Vernon, Tuscaloosa, Demopolis, Frisco City, Greenville, Troy
3 inches at Brewton, Hamilton, Bay Minette, Mobile Airport
2 inches at Atmore and Robertsdale
Trace at Fairhope and Coden

Remember, this does not count drifts. Those drifts were humongous in some areas, especially by Alabama standards. The drifts were 5 to 6 feet deep in parts of the Birmingham metro area. The official Birmingham snowfall of 13 inches was recorded at the airport. Naturally there was more in the higher terrain. For example, there was 17 inches where I lived at the time in the Huffman area not far from Medical Center East. Soon after the storm, the National Weather Service received a report of 15-foot drifts in some of the higher terrain of NE Alabama.

This was not a record event for everybody. For example, Auburn’s 5 inches pales when you compare it with their biggest snow around Valentine’s Day in the 1970s when they were buried under 14 inches.

JAMES SPANN
I apologize for such a long post, but it is easy for you to scroll down rapidly if you get bored. I hope James Spann will post an account of his actions during the event. At one point, he was calling for a snowstorm of historic proportions. That was a very strong, but accurate statement. The supermarkets were cleaned out.

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  1. John Terry says:

    I was 14 years old at the time…and I was living in Tuscaloosa, but I know their had to be more than four inches on the ground. I measured ten.

  2. Lori S says:

    Yep – I was 13 when it came through. My little sister was at a spend the night party that ended up lasting for at least 3 nights. Those girls survived the power outage by keeping cozy around the fireplace and roasting hot dogs and marshmallows. What, I’m sure, was a trying time for the adults at the party, turned out to be an absolute blast by 11 year-old-girl standards!! Meanwhile, my parents and I were snug at home in Trussville. We were very lucky and lost power only once for about an hour. My mother even video taped the news coverage of the blizzard – watching it now seems surreal!! In a way, it was a wonderful, beautiful event…but on the other hand, so many people suffered during the power outage and on the icy roads, etc. The snow was piled so high on the bannister outside, I couldn’t see over it when we opened the front door. Now, I tell my kids, (ages 5 and 7) about the “blizzard of ’93″ and every year they beg me to tell them when they’ll get to play in snow like that. My bet is that I will have to take them up north to ever see a snow like that again. That was a once in a lifetime deal here in Alabama. So glad I was here to see it though. Amazing.

  3. I live just outside of Walnut Grove about 300 yards from Hwy 278….and i remember the blizzard very well. I can’t recall the exact amount we got…as i was ten years old and didn’t care much about details. All i knew was that we couldn’t see out our living room windows for a few days, due to the high drifts. They were like 7 feet in some places! It was all fun for me. Especially since it all happend just a few days before my birthday!

  4. Karen says:

    At the time ,I lived in a suburb of Atlanta,Georgia.(Marietta) We got 8 inches of snow. This storm was the first and only offical “Blizzard” Georgia has ever had.

  5. Benji says:

    I am 32 years old, I lived through the 93 blizzard here in North Ga., is it possible that I will see this again in my lifetime?

  6. Ricky says:

    24 inches in Rome Georgia, without power 3 to 7 days in the Rome area…

  7. dave says:

    what is the earliest date that Rome, Ga has ever had snow (of any amount)??

  8. Ginger says:

    I saw nothing beautiful about it. It was/is a nightmare when you have three young children and are disabled. Nope..nothing attractive about it at all.

  9. edward says:

    my name is Eddie and i was 13 years old at the time of the 1993 blizzard and living just north of Birmingham Alabama in Center Point Alabama near Huffman i remember it starting to snow friday morning but picked back up friday and saturday morning with lighting thundering snow squalls wind and snow amounts up to 18 inches with drifts up to 16 17 feet we were without power for 5 days and was out of school for 4 days it stunk around for almost a week it was a wild event that a 8th grader such as my self will never forget and i will never forgot how it was near 80 on monday and only in the teens that Saturday it was wild dont see that happening again in my lifetime at least in March LOL

  10. edward cooke says:

    my name is Eddie and i was 13 years old at the time of the 1993 blizzard and living just north of Birmingham Alabama in Center Point Alabama near Huffman i remember it starting to snow friday morning but picked back up friday and saturday morning with lighting thundering snow squalls wind and snow amounts up to 18 inches with drifts up to 16 17 feet we were without power for 5 days and was out of school for 4 days it stunk around for almost a week it was a wild event that a 8th grader such as my self will never forget and i will never forgot how it was near 80 on monday and only in the teens that Saturday it was wild dont see that happening again in my lifetime at least in March LOL

  11. Cheryl Goldstein says:

    I was 35 at the time. My children and I got stuck at my Mom’s house along with about 8 other relatives. At least we had a fireplace and lots of wood. We cooked by setting up a grill in the garage. I think we got about 18 inches in Chalkville, at least thats what I heard at the time. My sister and I walked down to the nearest store on Old Springville Road to see if anyone had been affected. I know the snow came up to my knees. None of us could leave for 5 days and I’m sure we got on each other’s nerves, but it was a time my children and I will never forget.

  12. snowpimp says:

    3 year old thread

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