The Superstorm of ’93
By Heidi Sonen & Roscoe Shaw
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the “Superstorm” of March 12-13, 1993. Of all the storms Heidi and I have watched during a lifetime of being weather junkies, we both rate this as the biggest and wildest.
Bigger snowstorms have dumped on Crozet, but never have we seen such an enormous storm that affected so many places so severely. Our snow total here was 12”. Snowshoe, WV, got clobbered with 54” of snow! That’s over four feet in one storm. Many mountain locations of SW Virginia and western North Carolina got three feet.
Other notable snow totals included 17” in Birmingham AL and 25” in Pittsburgh, PA. Florida was flattened with 100mph winds and numerous tornadoes. When it was over, 310 people had been killed.
As meteorologists, Heidi and I were amazed at how well the storm was forecast by computer models. Ten days before the storm, the longer range models were going nuts and we simply didn’t believe them. But day after day, the models continued to show this gigantic storm and the forecast proved correct.
In the 1980’s and early 1990’s, computing power increased dramatically and this made for better and better computer forecast models, especially in the three to 10 day forecast range. The 1993 “Superstorm” was an example of what could be done with more computing power.