This Day in History - The Blizzard of 1993

By: Sean Sporman
By: Sean Sporman

It was a historic storm that claimed many lives and had seemingly every variety of extreme weather you could think of: snow, ice, tornadoes, record winds, hail, thunder, frigid temperatures and much more.

On March 12, 1993, a large low pressure system formed in the Gulf of Mexico as temperatures dropped across a large part of the country thanks to an arctic high. This system would bring snow to much of the eastern United States, as well as tornadoes to Florida and Louisiana, along with extremely high winds.

According to data compiled by the National Climatic Data Center, some of the snowfall totals included four inches in Atlanta, 13 inches in the nation’s capital and a staggering 17 inches in Birmingham, Alabama. Even more impressive, high winds brought snow drifts as high as six feet to the Birmingham area during what would later be called the Storm of the Century. Even higher snow totals were found in the northern parts of the US—27 in Albany, New York and incredible totals of three feet and above in places like Syracuse.

Strong winds were also measured, some well in excess of hurricane force. A gust of 90 miles per hour was recorded at Myrtle Beach in South Carolina for example. There were also many reports of thundersnow, including in the Birmingham area.

Along with the snow and wind came record-shattering cold temperatures—it got down to 2 degrees in Birmingham, 17 degrees in Montgomery, and it was below freezing as far south as Daytona Beach in Florida!

A strong squall line associated with the storm brought damaging straight-line winds to parts of Central Florida, and the storm also produced eleven tornadoes.

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