Reliving the Blizzard of ‘93
It is often said that there are special times and events that shape our lives. As a 6 year old, I remember grabbing a cab in Philly with my mom as JFK was shot in 1963. On 9/11/01, I was part of a Habitat for Humanity project here in Huntington when the planes struck the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
When you are a weather freak, those special times focus on great weather events. Hurricane Doria in 1967 caught my fancy as a lad in Philly as she felled trees on our block. I stayed up all night to see how bad she would be. When Camille hit the Gulf Coast in 1969, I tracked her every movement!
In winter, the big snowstorms are etched on my memory bank. Like the President’s Day storm of 1979 when snow fell horizontally and drifts reached over the fence at our house or the Ash Wednesday snowstorm of 1966 when my mom and I hiked a mile thru knee deep snow to get to church.
Of course, I have lived here in Appalachia for 20 years now and no weather event is more infamous in my memory bank than the Great Blizzard of 1993. “I looked in your eyes that night at 11 and realized this time it was for real”, said my dear friend Sheila Gray, former anchor on WSAZ. “When I went to shop after the show, the only thing left on the grocer’s shelf was tuna fish.” Apparently, Sheila was the last to believe my forecast of 12-24 inches of snow. Can’t say I blame her, after all a storm like that occurs once every half century!
Fifteen years ago this weekend, what amounts to a hurricane in winter churned its way thru the Gulf of Mexico and into the heart of Appalachia. It began snowing lightly that Friday night at 10 and before it let up on Sunday morning, our region was buried under a mountain of snow. Accumulations were hard to measure accurately since the wind blew so hard. Gusts to 50 miles per hour whipped the snow into deep drifts. Officially, Huntington bragged of 22.6” while Charleston set its one day record of 17”. Snowshoe took the golden snow ruler award when 44” overwhelmed the yard stick used to measure the fluffy white.
I set up shop at the old Radisson hotel and made the nightly walk from the studio to the hotel. The streets were deserted save for the huge dump truck and bulldozer operators who worked to collect the huge mounds of snow that had been delivered to their workplace.
The wind whistled all night long as I lay awake in my room. Incredibly, the temperature fell as low as 5 degrees just a week before spring. What a cruel trick Old Man Winter had played on us!
Friday night at 5 and 9 on Newschannel 3, I will add the video to my narrative as we relive the 15th anniversary of the so-called Superstorm of 1993.