Light Wintry Weather Saturday – Remembering the Blizzard of ’93!

Happy Friday! Another week has come to and end and in North Carolina weather forecasters were predicting a Wintry-Mix of sorts for much of the mountain region. It’s 8:00am and at the office in Foscoe (between Boone and Banner Elk) I have yet to see a drop of ANY kind of precipitation. I’ve heard rain, freezing rain, sleet, snow…all mixed into one, but where is it?

A quick look at the radar map on weather.com shows a huge blob of rain – sleet – mix – snow from out in the Atlantic Ocean all the way across the southeast to Oklahoma City and Dallas. It’s mostly rain for North Carolina with a little bit if ice mixed in – but in Oklahoma and parts of Texas and Arkansas it is only SNOW. I always wonder how parts of the country who don’t NORMALLY get a lot of wintry weather handle the situation. I’ve seen entire cities completely crippled by just the tiniest bit of snow. Try….Raleigh. Our state capitol – with an inch or two of snow people start to FREAK out. I know they don’t have the infrastructure to handle the snow and to efficiently clear and maintain wintry roads, but good lord! It’s almost funny.

This brings me to my next topic. Earlier this week the mid-west and northeast got absolutely BOMBED with snow. Cities like Chicago got so much snow hundreds of cars were abandoned on the side of the road. Looking at photographs and videos of this major winter storm really caused a stir of nostalgia deep down inside. I thought back to another EPIC storm that crippled the southeast. Does anyone have any idea what I’m referring to? Any guesses…..?

THE BLIZZARD OF ’93!!

Be honest – How many of you knew the great storm I was referring to? Well, I remember it vividly. I was 9 years old and I was out of school for what seemed like an ETERNITY and at the time I thought that was just the cat’s meow! I did a little searching around on this magical tool we all know and love – the WWW – and found some really cool statistics about what some sources called "The Storm of the Century." So, I’m going to take a little trudge through the snow on memory lane.

The Great Blizzard took place on March 12-13, 1993. It was absolutely MASSIVE. At the height of the storm it reached from Canada all the way towards Central America! It’s major impact was along the eastern seaboard and down into Cuba. Areas like Birmingham, Alabama got up to 12 inches and areas of the Florida Panhandle got as much as 4 inches of snow all the while hurricane force winds were raging! This storm was responsible for 300 deaths in the United States and loss of power to 10 million people!! WHOAH!

The biggest thing I remember was the SHEER AMOUNT OF SNOW that came along with this storm. Every airport from Nova Scotia to Atlanta was closed down, and people sure as heck weren’t doing any driving. This is CRAZY: parts of the Appalachian region got more than 3.5 feet of snow and there were snowdrifts as high as 35 feet!!

Take a look at some of the snow totals:

Snowshoe, WV – 54 inches
Boone, NC – 33 inches
Pittsburgh, PA – 25.2 inches
Gatlinburg, TN – 30 inches
Lincoln, NH – 35 inches
Syracuse, NY – 43 inches

I remember a couple of things very clearly – 1. There was an unbelievable amount of snow and 2. We didn’t have power for days, and my mom would cook tomato soup in a little pot on top of the kerosene heater.

We haven’t had a storm quite like that in YEARS! I think it might be kind of cool to be stuck inside for two or so days while 3-4 feet of snow falls. I have a feeling that following that storm, towns and cities might have developed some new plans as to how to handle winter weather, so it might not be QUITE as bad. But, let’s be honest, EVERYONE remembers that doozey of a winter storm. Next time you hear someone complaining about the cold and wind and the 6 inches of snow on the ground. Just remind them about the Blizzard of ’93 and they might shut up really quick.

What do you all remember about this storm? I’ve got a few stories of my own, but I’d love to share some of yours. Where were you? Who were you with? How were you affected. I think it might be nice to share some of your memories. So, send them to me at [email protected].

As for what’s going on at the six North Carolina ski areas…all of the ski areas are open with the exception of Wolf Ridge – they are open this morning with 13 trails out of 23 and will open up to 18 of 23 at 4:30 this afternoon for the night session and those will remain open through the weekend.

As for the weather this weekend…it’s another one of those mixed bag kinds of forecasts….

Beech/Sugar
Tonight: Rain. Patchy fog between 11pm and 2am. Low around 34. Light south wind. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New rainfall amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.

Saturday: A chance of rain before 4pm, then a chance of snow. Patchy fog before 8am. Otherwise, mostly cloudy, with a high near 40. Light wind becoming west between 14 and 17 mph. Chance of precipitation is 40%. Little or no snow accumulation expected.

Saturday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 23. West wind between 5 and 13 mph.

Sunday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 45. Northwest wind at 6 mph becoming south.

Appalachian
Tonight: Rain or freezing rain, becoming all rain after midnight. Low around 30. South wind between 5 and 8 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New ice accumulation of less than a 0.1 of an inch possible.

Saturday: A chance of showers, mainly after 2pm. Partly sunny, with a high near 41. Breezy, with a west wind 7 to 10 mph increasing to between 19 and 22 mph. Winds could gust as high as 37 mph. Chance of precipitation is 40%. New rainfall amounts of less than a tenth of an inch possible.

Saturday Night: A chance of snow showers, mainly before 7pm. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 26. Breezy, with a west wind between 10 and 20 mph, with gusts as high as 32 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30%.

Sunday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 43. West wind between 6 and 8 mph.

Cataloochee
Tonight: Rain. Patchy fog. Low around 35. Calm wind becoming south around 6 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New rainfall amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.

Saturday: A chance of rain before noon, then a chance of rain and snow between noon and 1pm, then a slight chance of snow after 1pm. Patchy fog before 8am. Otherwise, mostly cloudy, with a high near 42. Light wind becoming west between 12 and 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 40%. Little or no snow accumulation expected.

Saturday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 22. Northwest wind around 5 mph becoming calm.

Sunday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 50. Calm wind becoming south between 4 and 7 mph.

Wolf Ridge
Tonight: Rain. Patchy fog. Low around 35. Calm wind becoming southeast around 6 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New rainfall amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.

Saturday: A chance of rain before 4pm, then a slight chance of snow. Patchy fog before 8am. Otherwise, mostly cloudy, with a high near 42. Calm wind becoming northwest between 13 and 16 mph. Chance of precipitation is 40%. Little or no snow accumulation expected.

Saturday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 23. Northwest wind between 5 and 8 mph becoming calm.

Sunday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 50. Calm wind becoming southwest around 5 mph.

I hope you all have a WONDERFUL weekend. Take some pictures and send them to me!!

THINK COLD!! THINK SNOW!!

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Mike Doble
Mike is the Editor and founder of SkiSoutheast.com, SkiNC.com and ResortCams.com. Since September 1996 he has posted more than 13,000 posts, articles, photos and videos promoting all of the ski areas of North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland.Mike is the father of four daughters, is an avid skier and enjoys golf, tennis, kayaking and hiking in the mountains. Winter snowsports and Summer boating on Watauga Lake are among his favorite pastimes.