Blizzard of '93: Why Was it the Storm of the Century?
By By Meghan Evans, Meteorologist
March 15, 2012, 10:25:54 AM EDT
The Blizzard of '93 killed more than 300 people and dumped more than 20 inches of snow across a wide corridor of the Appalachians and Northeast. Fierce winds blew snow around into massive drifts.
Travel and school were shut down for days, including in the major cities like Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and New York City. More than a foot of snow fell in these cities before snow changed to sleet, while hurricane-force winds battered the Northeast coast.
Some of the highest snowfall amounts include 42.9 inches in Syracuse, N.Y., 30.9 inches in Beckley, W.Va., and 25.3 inches in Pittsburgh, Pa.
Photo Album, Personal Accounts
The storm had such a huge impact because it became very intense rapidly and walloped such a massive area of the East with more than a foot of snow. The storm system strengthened drastically over the Gulf of Mexico on March 12, 1993 and along the mid-Atlantic coast on March 13, 1993.
In fact, a record low pressure of 960 mb, or 28.35 inches Hg, was measured over the Chesapeake Bay.
The record pressure of 960 mb is like a Category 3 hurricane, according to Dale Mohler, AccuWeather.com expert senior meteorologist.
"The Blizzard of '93 is a good example of a 'snowicane'," AccuWeather.com Expert Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski added. "It was granddaddy of 'em all."
Several ingredients came together for one of the biggest blizzards ever to rage across the East.
Extremely Strong Jet Stream
A very potent jet stream, or a channel of fast winds around the altitude that planes fly, in place over the Gulf of Mexico set the stage for the powerful storm system to develop. Jet stream winds of more than 170 mph were in place across the Gulf of Mexico.
The polar, Pacific and subtropical jets combined forces to create 170-mph-plus winds.
"It is very unusual to see jet stream winds that high," AccuWeather.com Expert Senior Meteorologist Henry Margusity said.
AccuWeather.com Meteorologists remember forecasting the Blizzard of '93.
Severe Thunderstorms in Gulf of Mexico
A line of severe thunderstorms associated with the storm system first erupted over Texas and then pushed into the Gulf of Mexico and Florida.
High winds and tornadoes ripped across Florida on March 13. At least nine tornadoes tore across Florida, while serious flooding resulted a storm surge along the west coast and torrential rain from the storms.
"One of the biggest things [factors with the Blizzard of '93] was the squall line that developed in the Gulf. The storms fed northward into the storm," Margusity said.
Thunderstorms release heat, referred to as latent heat by meteorologists. The heat added by the thunderstorms helped to drastically lower the pressure, helping the storm system strengthen.
Comments that don't add to the conversation may be automatically or manually removed by Facebook or AccuWeather. Profanity, personal attacks, and spam will not be tolerated.
More Weather News
Weather News - March 22, 2019, 3:21:07 PM EDT
A lunar rainbow, one of the rarest types of rainbows, appeared during the super worm moon earlier this week.
Weather News - March 22, 2019, 12:42:06 PM EDT
The colorful festival of Holi celebrated by the Hindu community marks the beginning of spring.
In case you missed it: Pence assures Midwest flood victims as damage tops $1 billion; 50,000 visitors overtake California town to see vibrant superbloom
Weather News - March 22, 2019, 11:39:12 AM EDT
Flooding in the Midwest has put entire towns underwater and forced thousands to abandon their homes while a cyclone in southern Africa became one of the worst natural disasters to hit the region in decades.
Severe Tropical Cyclone Veronica to inundate Australia's Pilbara Coast with life-threatening flooding
Weather News - March 22, 2019, 1:17:16 PM EDT
Lives and property will be in severe peril later this weekend and early next week along the northwestern coastline of Western Australia as Severe Tropical Cyclone Veronica slows down and unloads extreme rainfall.
Weather News - March 22, 2019, 2:42:11 PM EDT
A storm forecast to spread rain from the Mississippi Valley on Sunday to the Atlantic coast on Monday may end as a period of snow from parts of Ohio to parts of Massachusetts early next week.
Australia faces a dual severe tropical cyclone strike this weekend starting with Trevor in the Northern Territory
Weather News - March 22, 2019, 7:59:25 PM EDT
As Veronica threatens to cause a flood disaster in northwestern Australia, the dangers to lives and property are expected to expand well away from where Severe Tropical Cyclone Trevor makes a dangerous strike on Australia's Northern Territory early this weekend.
Weather News - March 22, 2019, 12:24:17 PM EDT
The winter of 2018-2019 will go down in the record books for being the wettest on record due to relentless rain and snow, so AccuWeather ranked the cities that were buried under the most snow this winter.
Cyclone Idai flood catastrophe: Estimates of more than 1,000 dead as 'inland ocean' forms in Mozambique
Weather News - March 22, 2019, 10:21:37 AM EDT
More than 1,000 people are feared dead in Mozambique and Zimbabwe as the flood catastrophe caused by Tropical Cyclone Idai continues to rage. Drier weather is expected to finally return later this weekend.