Archive for March, 2008

March 27th, 2008 - STORM OF THE CENTURY

By Dennis Gordon

I think all of us could agree upon the “Storm of the Century”, as Katrina, the hurricane that devastated New Orleans in 2005.  But what about the last century?  (Now that makes me feel old talking about the last century.)

I would imagine that the storm of the century would be determined by where you lived.  If you weren’t directly affected by it, you wouldn’t even consider a major storm elsewhere in the country as significant as a “Storm of the Century.”

Many experts agree and statistics confirm that the storm that occurred in the eastern seaboard states on March 12-15, 1993, deserves to be called “The Storm of the Century”.  Did anybody notice that this happened during my not so favorite month of March?

Here are some facts about this storm that you can impress your friends with.

This particular storm that raged for four days, closed down the entire eastern one –third of the country from Maine to Florida.  Twenty-six states were affected in some way from Texas to the Ohio Valley to Maine.  Fifty percent of the nation’s population or approximately 100 million people were affected.

Every airport on the east coast was closed during this storm at one time or another.  This was the first time that this had ever happened.

Over three million people were without power, due to the high winds, with trees and branches being blown down.  The winds in New York City shattered windows in skyscrapers sending shards of glass tumbling to the sidewalks below.  On Mt.Washington, New Hampshire, wind gusts of 144 mph were recorded.  Over the gulf, hurricane force wind gusts of 100+ mph cause a twelve foot storm surge at Taylor County Florida, killing seven people.  Long Island, New York saw eighteen-waterfront homes fall into the sea because of the pounding surf.

This storm brought not only high winds but also snow, and lots of it.  Two-foot snowfalls were common. Birmingham, Alabama received seventeen inches with drifts of up to six feet in some areas due to the winds.  In fact, snow fell on every square inch of Alabama.  Atlanta, Georgia, received nine inches of snow and issued the first blizzard warning in its history.  Chattanooga, Tennessee saw twenty inches; Syracuse, New York had forty-three inches.  Four foot of snow fell in the Great Smokey Mountains where over one hundred hikers had to be rescued by helicopter.  The Florida panhandle got to see six inches of snow.  Many homes and business’s roofs collapsed due to the high snow loads.

The Office of Hydrology of the National Weather Service estimated that the amount of snow that fell, if melted, would be about forty times the volume of water that flows out of the Mississippi River at New Orleans each day.  Put another way, the amount of water that flows out of the mouth of the Mississippi for forty days would equal the amount of melted snow that fell. (Forty days and nights, does that sound familiar?) 

As if high winds and record snowfalls were not enough, record cold temperatures were felt throughout the entire east coast.  Burlington, Vermont felt a record temperature of –12 degrees Fahrenheit.  There were seventy record lows recorded on the morning of the 14th with another seventy-five record lows on the 15th.  The city of Boston had to cancel the Saint Patrick’s Day parade, for the first time in its history.

This was one of the strongest storms on record with low barometer readings over a dozen states.  These record low readings are blamed for an unusually high outbreak of childbirths that occurred during that time.

It is estimated that there was between three and six billion dollars of damages, due to the storm.

At least 270 people died, many due to heart attacks from shoveling heavy wet, snow.  There were an additional 48 that had died at sea.  The storm spawned at least twenty-seven tornadoes in Florida killing an estimated forty-four people.

In the great state of Georgia, 1.3 million chickens died due to the snow, wind and plunging temperatures.

Now that I have given you just a few of the many facts about this storm, would you consider it the “Storm of the Century?”  I would think that it would be worthy of that title, but when it was actually happening, I didn’t.  In reality, I don’t really remember it happening, because it did not affect me personally, but I would bet that those 100 million people that it did affect remember, and to them it is no question that it was “THE STORM OF THE CENTURY.”