21st Anniversary of the Storm of the Century

It was the storm of all storms. A system that impacted the U.S. years before Hurricane Frances, Wilma, Katrina, and Sandy. One that many of you experienced, and everyone has heard about it.

I'm referring to the Superstorm of 1993. It's been given different names over the years... the "Storm of the Century," the "Blizzard of '93," and for us here in Florida, the "No-Name Storm."

They're all accurate labels.

It formed on March 12, 1993 in the Gulf of Mexico, and it's one that we will all remember. The right ingredients were in place: a disturbance in the Gulf interacting with a highly active Polar Jet Stream. As the disturbance moved northeast toward the Panhandle of Florida, the unusually strong Polar Jet dove south and caused the disturbance to rapidly intense.

A central pressure of 976 millibars was recorded in Tallahassee, FL. A pressure that low is normally only recorded with CAT 2 hurricanes.

As the system tracked up the East Coast it created all kinds of havoc. 22 million dollars of havoc to be exact. It impacted 26 states, eastern Canada, Cuba, and some felt it in Central America, too. Yes, it was that huge.

At the time it was the strongest winter storm to impact the U.S. since 1899, hence its nickname "Storm of the Century."

It brought record cold, record snow, winds that surpassed 100 MPH in areas, and severe weather that overtook the state of Florida.

How much snow did it drop? I can sum it up by given you three totals along the East Coast...  Almost 4' in Syracuse, NY, 3.5' in Chattanooga, TN, and 4" in the Panhandle of Florida (snow was seen as far South as Jacksonville, FL). Combine that with hurricane force winds, and we had whiteout blizzard conditions along with out of this world snowdrifts.

In Florida, the severe weather was spawned by a massive derecho that brought 100+ MPH winds, at least 10 tornadoes, and a 12' storm surge in the Gulf. In total, over 18,000 homes were damaged in the state, and more people died in this "No-Name Storm" than Hurricane Hugo and Andrew combined.

On the positive side, it was the first time the NWS was able to forecast a severe event with over 5 days lead time. Models were so accurate (and eerie) that several government offices declared States of Emergencies days in advance, Blizzard Warnings were posted 2 days prior to the event, and some forecasters in the Southeast actually didn't believe the models because they were so spot on with the system.

It's now been over 2 decades now since the Storm of the Century, but I know many of you can recall the above events like it happened 2 days ago, and I hope we don't see a system for at least another 2 decades.

Print this article Back to Top

Comments