"Superstorm '93," the "Storm of the Century," or the "Great Blizzard of 1993." Whatever you call it, this was one of the most intense storms of the 20th century. Its effects were felt as far south as Cuba and as far north as eastern Canada. The storm broke records in numerous weather-related categories. From record low barometric pressure readings to wind speeds to snow totals.
The storm began on March 11th when a low pressure system developed in Mexico. Cold air was already in place on the east coast, thanks to a high pressure system in the mid-west. As the low moved east, it taped moisture from the Gulf of Mexico, which fueled thunderstorm development. A deep trough in the polar jet helped the storm intensify rapidly. A squall line formed and quickly moved into the west coast of Florida.
By March 12th, most meteorologists believed their was a potential for a major snowstorm. This was the first time that meteorologists were able to accurately predict the path and severity of a storm days in advance. Blizzard warnings were issued two days in advance and some areas declared a State of Emergency even before the storm hit.
The next day, the low moved into northwest Florida. Barometric pressure readings were quite low (such as 28.82 inches in Tallahassee). Such readings are typically only seen in a hurricane. As the low continued to move north and east, the snow began to fall. Areas of the Florida Panhandle received several inches.
During the 13th and 14th, the low moved up the east coast. As it moved north, cities began measuring snowfall in feet. Birmingham, Alabama - a city that normally doesn't even see snow - received 17 inches. Strong winds resulted in blizzard conditions with snow drifts has high as 35 feet. Almost every airport was closed for some period of time.
By early Monday morning, the storm was centered in eastern Canada. Cold temperatures settled into the east coast, resulting in several record low temperatures. Despite the storm hitting over the weekend, most schools were closed on Monday. In fact, some schools were closed for several days.
The Weather Channel covering the storm: