“Storm of the Century” 20th Anniversary: In March 1993, a winter storm dubbed the “Storm of the Century” developed in the deep south, and tore north right through the United States and into Canada, leaving 208 people dead and $6.6 billion dollars of damage in its wake.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) satellite imagery from March 12, 1993:
The National Climatic Data Center ranked the March 12, 1993 “Storm of the Century” the most impactful winter storm to hit the Northeast.
It spawned 11 tornadoes in Florida and covered the land from Alabama to the Carolinas in 8–33 inches of snow with whiteout conditions common along the way, according to NOAA.
In the South, electricity was knocked out in 1.5 million homes and thousands were stranded in airports, shelters, and traffic jams, according to a New York Times article published March 15, 1993.
The now deceased former governor of Florida Lawton Chiles spoke to Florida publication the Sun Sentinel a week after the storm: “Could they have done a better job predicting it?” the governor asked. “Everyone could have done a better job if we had more information on what was coming.”
We found my bedroom floor a half-mile across the channel.
The National Weather Service admitted that their equipment was not good enough at the time to predict the storm. It issued flood warnings hours after most of the victims had already drowned, reported the Sentinel.
Karen Crouse of Taylor County, Fla., linked arms with her 9-year-old daughter and jumped into icy waters surrounding their home.
“I told her, if we get separated, just swim. But when we came up, she was still hanging on to me like a squirrel,” Crouse told the Sentinel.
Laraine Sapp found only parts of her home after the disaster.
“My house is in pieces,” she told the Sentinel. “We found my bedroom floor a half-mile across the channel. The rest of my house must be scattered over five miles.”
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