Meteorologist Brent Watts
March 13, 2012
March 13th, 1993, the region saw one of the largest March snowfalls in recorded history. The weather predictions grew from 6 to 12 inches early in the week, to 1 to 2 feet just before the snow began on Saturday.
On top of the extreme snow, strong winds were expected to top 45mph in the higher elevations, creating the blizzard conditions across much of the east coast.
One national forecaster commented, "this is like a hurricane, with snow." Others coined it the "white hurricane" due to the combination of snow and wind.
THE PERFECT STORM
All the ingredients came together for the blizzard. Arctic air from Canada mixed with subtropical moisture from the Gulf of Mexico. The low pressure system moved up the eastern seaboard on Friday, hitting the Carolinas and Virginia on Saturday, before heading to the Canadian Maritimes on Sunday.
Winds over 60mph hit the Altantic coastline, causing tidal flooding and waves over 25 feet. Boston recorded a gust of 80mph.
Snow fell from northern Mississippi to the Panhandle of Florida, with snow drifting up to 6 feet in some areas. Kentucky had 8 foot drifts. In western Virginia, 14 foot drifts were reported.
Numerous cities in the South and MidAtlantic recorded their lowest barometric pressure, as the storm bottomed out at 28.34". For reference, an average low pressure system has a pressure of 29.60."
HOW MUCH SNOW FELL?
Roanoke: 16" | Blacksburg: 32" | Galax 38" | Bluefield 24" | Snowshoe, WV 44"
It was a wet, heavy snow that weighted down the tops of buildings. Numerous collapsed roofs were reported. In Vinton, the 3,200 seat Lancerlot collapsed on March 14th, just hours after the roof began to buckle.
THE STORM IN OTHER STATES
Louisianna: Up to an inch of snow fell just 30miles north of New Orleans
Mississippi: Up to 6" of snow fell.
Alabama: A record 15 inches of snow in Birmingham
Georgia: 16 inches of snow fell.
Florida: Ankle deep snow fell in the northern panhandle. Wind gusts over 100mph just south of Key West, Florida.
North Carolina: 2 feet of snow reported in the mountains
Kentucky: All highways in eastern Kentucky were closed.
ANOTHER MARCH BLIZZARD
The blizzard developed on the same week as one of the worst storms on record, the Blizzard of 1888 (March 12-13), which dumped over 5 feet of snow over parts of the east coast.
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