Remembering "The Storm of the Century"
This past weekend marked the 17th anniversary of the "Storm of the Century" as it is now known. Back on March 13, 1993 a low pressure system moving across the Florida peninsula and up the Atlantic seaboard underwent a process called "bombogenesis" (there’s a weather term for ya). Bombogenesis is when a low pressure system drops in pressure by at least 24 millibars in as many hours. That's an incredible drop in such a short amount of time. To put it in perspective, Hurricane Katrina went from a category 2 hurricane to a category 5 hurricane when its central pressure dropped by 25 millibars in 18 hours.
I remember the storm from when I lived in the suburbs of Atlanta. We picked up almost 6 inches of snow in Douglasville and the winds were very strong at around 30 mph. We called it the Blizzard of '93 although that was technically incorrect as the visibility didn't drop low enough and winds weren't strong enough, at least one of which has to occur before a storm can be truly be called a blizzard. The winds were strong enough that I remember not enjoying playing in the snow because after about 10 minutes outdoors my skin felt raw. So instead, I sat inside my grandparents' house in front of the fireplace putting puzzles together through the afternoon. We couldn't watch TV because the power was out and we didn't have running water because of so many water main breaks due to frozen pipes. School was even shut down on Monday and Tuesday, even though the snow fell on a Saturday.
Elsewhere across the southeast, tornado outbreaks occurred in Central Florida and hurricane force winds were experienced between Cuba and Jacksonville, FL. Snow totals as high as 42 inches fell across the Appalachians with snow banks as high as 35 feet! Imagine trying to make your way through the mountains with that pile in your way. As the storm churned up the Atlantic seaboard it even took on the shape of a hurricane with a well formed eye off the New York coastline. That's how it got one of its many other nicknames, the "No Name Hurricane". While it's rare to have a storm like this take on an eyewall, it happens from time to time. The last Nor'easter with an eye actually occurred this past winter. You may have heard it called "Snowmaggedon".
Whatever you called the storm of '93, I bet you still remember it. After all, it affected over 130 million people, roughly 50% of the US population at the time.
Meteorologist Jason Disharoon