New Englanders are bracing for another Nor’easter that could dump more than a foot of snow on the region Tuesday — the 25th anniversary of what became known as the Storm of the Century in 1993.
In Western Pennsylvania, it’s referred to as the “Blizzard of 1993.”
The snow began to fall late Friday, March 12, 1993, but the real chaos began the next day. By the end of the weekend, the region would be under two or more feet of snow. Three feet fell in Latrobe, where drifts measured up to 10 feet high.
I remember digging my car out with a frisbee and small camping shovel.
— cbsassy (@cbsassy) March 12, 2018
As we prepare for the upcoming nor’easter, we also note the anniversary of two historic storms. This is the 25th anniversary of the Blizzard of 1993, and the 130th anniversary of the Great Blizzard of 1888. pic.twitter.com/Ckyj0uZcB8
— NWS Eastern Region (@NWSEastern) March 12, 2018
Major interstates – and many roads in general – were shut down across the state. State and local officials begged drivers to stay off the roads, not only for their own safety, but to leave the roads wide open for emergency vehicles.
John Darnley, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Moon, was in the Air Force in Ohio when the 1993 storm hit.
“I remember sitting in a meeting, and we had aircrafts up and down the eastern seaboard that we wanted to move,” he said. “(Prediction) models back then only went out 48 hours. We moved all the planes to Texas. One of the colonels looked at me and said, ‘You better be right.'”
The models were right, and meteorologists were able to sound the alarm about the impending storm days in advance.
“That model that day of that particular forecast was very accurate,” he said. The conditions that developed in the Gulf of Mexico that worked their way north were hurricane-like, he said.
The Pittsburgh area received little accumulated snow March 12, but over the course of the next day 23.6 inches fell (though the St. Patrick’s Day parade went on as planned). By storm’s end on March 14, the region was under 25 inches of snow.
Ruined my 15th bday so hard.
— MmmmmmmikeyB (@pennsykid) March 12, 2018
The Blizzard of ’93 canceled my fifth birthday party. My dad somehow still got the cake from the grocery store and my family (four of us) ate the entire thing. https://t.co/LAj0kxObyH
— Maggie Graham (@magsg) March 12, 2018
On top of the snow, it was also a frigid weekend – the high on March 14, 1993 was 17, with a low temperature of 6. Those temperatures set a record for coldest March 14. That record still stands.
Across the state 49 people were killed – the highest statewide death toll of the storm. All told, 270 people died during the storm, and 48 were considered lost at sea as the storm ravaged the Gulf of Mexico.
The snow fell as far south as Alabama – Birmingham saw 13 inches — and the storm system itself stretched from Canada to Honduras. It produced 11 tornadoes across Florida that killed five people. Wind gusts reached more than 100mph.
❄This year marks the 25th anniversary of the ‘Blizzard of 1993’ (a.k.a. ‘The Storm of the Century’). Check out our Story Map recapping this historic event -> https://t.co/GZ2i1KfMJt #alwx pic.twitter.com/zJNxvgPJoH
— NWS Birmingham (@NWSBirmingham) March 12, 2018
Darnley said that while it will be unseasonably cold and there is snow in the forecast over the next several days, there’s no fear of a repeat: The region will likely see a maximum of a half inch of the white stuff this week.