The Great Blizzard of 1993 was a large cyclonic storm that occurred from March 11 to March 15 on the East Coast of North America. It was distinguished from other storms due to its intensity, size, and wide reaching effect. The storm’s main impact was on Cuba and Eastern U.S. At its peak this tempest reached From Canada to Central America.
The cyclone first barreled through Cuba. In the Havana area the winds gusted at 100 miles per hour.A research team from the Institute of Meteorology of Cuba conducted a survey, which suggests winds reached as high as 130 mph. It was the most damaging front ever recorded in Cuba. The storm left Cuba near sunrise taking ten lives, and one billion U.S. dollars in damages.
Next, it slammed into the Gulf of Mexico, creating havoc. The Coast Guard had its hands full. Two freighters, the Fantastico which was 200-ft., and the 147-ft. Ms.Beholding, were heavily hit by the storm. The Fantastico sank 70 miles offshore Ft. Meyers, Florida. Seven of its crew members lost their lives. The Ms. Beholding ran ashore on a coral reef 10 miles from Key West. Many other smaller vessels sunk. The Coast Guard saved a total of 253 lives from more than 100 boats across the Gulf during the storm.
Leaving the Gulf of Mexico, the storm moved into Eastern U.S. In Florida, the super cells created 11 tornadoes, uprooting a great number of trees throughout the state. Storm surges reached as high as 12 feet. The number of people that drowned during the ’93 storm was greater than the ones drowning from hurricanes Hugo and Andrew combined.
The 1993 Storm of the Century was the first storm that the National Weather Service meteorologists were able to accurately predict 5 days before it happened. Forecasters were confident enough in their computer forecasts to declare a State of Emergency before the snow even started to fall.
In the South, however, there was doubt about the severity of the situation. The days before the storm, temperatures were average for early March. The numbers predicted by computers were so extreme that local T.V. news stations were hesitant in airing the forecast models. The models, however, turned out to be more than accurate.
The blizzard reached as far as Alabama and Georgia, dropping 6 to 18 inches of snow. Even the Florida Panhandles reported up to 4 inches of snow. From Texas to Pennsylvania, it created thunder snow.
This super storm was massive affecting 26 states and 40 percent of the population simultaneously. The blizzard knocked power out for 10 million people. After causing record breaking damage and havoc, the tempest moved on to Canada. A study made after the storm passed, calculated the total snowfall to be 12.91 cubic miles. This would weigh, depending on snow density, between 5.4 and 27 billion tons.
Overall, the 1993 storm claimed a total 310 lives and caused over 6 billion dollars worth of damage. The last time the southeast was hit this heavily was when the Great Blizzard of 1899 arrived.