Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Blizzard anniversary

The March 13, 1993, turned the region into an ice-pack for several days.

Blizzard anniversary


Computer models' showing giant snowstorms a week in advance are a winter tradition.

What was different about the models in the first week of March 1993 was that they turned out to be right.

The Blizzard of 1993 was a true snow hurricane, with wind gusts as high as 77 m.p.h. reported at the Shore.

In Philadelphia, a foot of heavy, wet snow fell on the morning of March 13, following by several hours of sleet, and a hard freeze overnight.

The result was a solid, foot-deep ice pack across the region that punished the soles of pedestrians' feet. We cannot recall a March storm with such lingering effects. The storm shut down museums, restaurants, and even the Flower Show.

The storm, itself, was legitimately historic, affecting the entire East, even blowing off the anenometer at the National Hurricane Center, in Florida.

The snowfall totals were incredible, with up to 56 inches reported; 43 inches measured in Syracuse, N.Y., and over 2 feet in State College.

In all, the storm was blamed for 270 deaths, including 49 in Pennsylvania and 44 in Florida, where 15 tornadoes were sighted.

According to the government's report, every major airport on the East Coast was shut down. Hundreds of roofs collapsed, and over 160 people had to be rescued at sea.

The National Weather Service estiimated that the volume of liquid that fell was equivalent to 40 days' flow on the Mississippi River.

What made this storm so intense?

It's well known that March is a season of extreme temperature contrasts in the Northern Hemishere, with the remnants of winter battling advancing spring.

Rutgers University professor Keith Arnesen had his own hypothesis at the time. He thought that perhaps the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Phillipines in 1991 was a factor.

After the eruption, the Earth cooled considerably. He believed the cooling may have sharpred the temperature contrasts that drove the storm.

Inquirer Weather Columnist
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Tony Wood Inquirer Weather Columnist
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