20 Years Ago Today: The Blizzard of '93

20 Years Ago Today: The Blizzard of '93

It was the original superstorm - a storm which others are still stacked up against. Most pale in comparison. The Blizzard of '93 brought an onslaught of snow and wind the Keystone State hadn't seen in decades.
Two decades ago today the Scranton St. Patrick's Parade was canceled. A monster storm was rolling our way threatening to dump feet of snow. It was the original superstorm - a storm which others are still stacked up against. Most pale in comparison. The Blizzard of '93 brought an onslaught of snow and wind the Keystone State hadn't seen in decades.

"I don't ever remember or even conceiving a forecast for a foot of snow in Philadelphia, two feet of snow in Pittsburgh and as much in between. A storm that wide with that much snow affecting the entire state is just unprecedented," said Pennsylvania State Climatologist Paul Knight.

The storm gathered strength from the merging of three jet streams over the Gulf of Mexico. It peaked near the Chesapeake Bay as strong as a category 2 or 3 hurricane. Records from this storm stood until falling last year during Hurricane Sandy. "If we're just talking intensity of cyclones, Sandy was more intense but when speaking about volume of precipitation and snow, the '93 storm stands alone," says Knight.

Dubbed by some as a "snow-i-cane," it brought heavy snow whipped by winds of 45 to 65 miles per hour. This caused snow drifts of 10 to 15 feet or higher. The storm hit on a Saturday and moved out by Sunday, but the great dig out would take days longer.

Snow amounts ranged from just shy of 2 feet to 3 and a half feet. Yes two yard sticks needed to measure this one! "Everything ground to a halt, all traffic was stopped. And of course then it took anywhere from 1 to 3 days to dig out from the storm," recalls Knight.

Governor Casey ordered all state highways shut during and after the storm. Schools were closed for a week and in some cases more. It's a storm many will never forget - mostly because we haven't seen anything like it since - and might not ever see again.

Overall the storm was responsible for nearly 300 deaths and billions in damage across the Eastern U.S.


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