25 Years Ago Today: The Blizzard Of 1993

The Storm Dumped 25.3 Inches Of Snow, Third Most on Record

Robert Suhr
March 12, 2018 - 10:28 am

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PITTSBURGH (Newsradio 1020 KDKA) - As most of you know, I love the weather, and I really love winter weather, but why? It all started 25 years ago this week. That's when the "Blizzard of '93", the "Storm Of The Century", the March of '93 Superstorm", roared up the east coast.

Most meteorologists have "their storm", a weather event in their life that got them hooked on the weather, in 1993, this was my storm.

I remember waking up as a nine year old, on Saturday morning, March 13th, looking out my window to over two feet of snow on the ground and thinking how on earth could all this snow fall from the sky??

But enough about me, lets talk about one of, if not the greatest snowstorm to ever impact the Pittsburgh area.

Before "Bomb Cyclone" and all those other fancy hype terms were created, storms were simply Winter Storms.

By the book, the Blizzard of 1993 was a mid-latitude cyclone, a really, really strong one. I won't go all weather weenie on you, but I'll say the storm was strong because of several factors. A battle between really cold arctic air, really warm southern air and warm Gulf of Mexico temperatures, all fuel for a storm like this.

Here's a great satellite image of the storm ramping up...

The storm would then ride inland up the coast, keeping Pittsburgh on the "cold" side of the storm the entire time while snowfall rates of well over an inch an hour fell for hours. The storm was so strong it dragged down bitterly cold temperatures and tropical storm force winds to create white-out conditions and wind chills well below zero.

It's the only time I can remember the National Weather Service office in Pittsburgh issuing a "Blizzard Warning" for Pittsburgh...

Needless to say, the storm dumped A LOT of snow across a good portion of the east, in fact, snow was reported from the gulf coast all the way to Maine!...

The region was crippled, Pittsburgh International, which was still pretty new, was closed for several days. Schools were closed for a week. Businesses shut down. The Diocese Of Pittsburgh even issued special dispensation to Catholics who were nervous about not being able to make it to church that Sunday and in the day ahead. 

We talk all about people running to get bread and milk every time snow is in the forecast, but this time, you really did need supplies because most people were unable to get out of their homes for days.

March of 1993 finished with 34.1 inches of snow, the most ever for the month according to the National Weather Service here in Pittsburgh.

The storm also set a DAILY snowfall record in Pittsburgh...

When all finished, a total of 25.3 inches of snow would fall across three days (Friday-Sunday) with Saturday being the worst.

It was worse in Westmoreland County where over three feet of snow would accumulate. The Pennsylvania Turnpike was closed for days and the National Guard was called in to assist in snow removal.

In the deep south, nearly a dozen tornadoes would be spawned from the storm while the coast was battered with costal flooding and severe beach erosion. A report from NOAA's Neal Lott showed that the Blizzard of 1993 would result in 270 people losing their lives including an astonishing 48 people who were lost at sea!.

The death total was higher than that of Hurricane Andrew and Hugo COMBINED!

Many locations in the east recorded their lowest ever central pressure. The atmospheric pressure at one point was so low in Pittsburgh, it would fail to register on a home barometer.

Needless to say it was a storm to remember, and if the weather has taught me anything, its that it will happen again.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect KDKA Radio or Entercom Communications.

Listen to former KDKA meteorologist Dennis Bowman discuss the blizzard with Robert Mangino of the KDKA Radio Afternoon News.