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> "Storm of the Century" Blizzard of 1993, AKA Superstorm - History, Prediction, Etc.
maryland
post Nov 3 2008, 08:13 PM
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QUOTE(denandtina @ May 2 2008, 10:10 AM) *
This was an amazing storm. I was 23 years old at the time and a young newly-wed. We had only just bought our house 2 years prior. My wife worked within walking distance and had walked to work that day. Early afternoon when the b lizzard really cranked up, her boss closed the office early. My two young stepchildren and I walked down to bring her home. Very Norman Rockwell! The next morning, the drifts were almost to the top of the french doors leading onto out deck, which was already 2 feet off of the ground. The drifts were almost 8 feet deep in places around our property. I don't recall the exact amount of snow we received, but I think we were around 30" west of Harrisburg.

Here is what I found out for Pa. on the NWS website:



DOC >NOAA >NESDIS >NCDC Search Field:

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Event Record Details

Event: Blizzard
Begin Date: 13 Mar 1993, 1200 EST
Begin Location: Not Known
End Date: 14 Mar 1993, 0700EST EST
End Location: Not Known
Magnitude: 0
Fatalities: 2
Injuries: 0
Property Damage: $ 5.0M
Crop Damage: $ 0.0
State: Pennsylvania
Map of Counties
Forecast
Zones affected: Adams, Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Bedford, Berks, Blair, Bradford, Bucks, Butler, Cambria, Cameron, Carbon, Chester, Clarion, Clearfield, Columbia, Crawford, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Elk, Fayette, Forest, Franklin, Fulton, Greene, Huntingdon, Indiana, Jefferson, Juniata, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lawrence, Lebanon, Lehigh, Luzerne, Mckean, Mercer, Mifflin, Monroe, Montgomery, Montour, Northampton, Northern Centre, Northern Clinton, Northern Erie, Northern Lycoming, Northern Wayne, Northumberland, Perry, Philadelphia, Pike, Potter, Schuylkill, Snyder, Somerset, Southern Centre, Southern Clinton, Southern Erie, Southern Lycoming, Southern Wayne, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga, Union, Venango, Warren, Washington, Westmoreland, Wyoming, York


Description:
One of the biggest snowstorms this century struck western and central Pennsylvania. Arctic air from Canada, combined with moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean to fuel a powerful storm which moved northward along the Atlantic Coast. In western and central Pennsylvania blizzard conditions were met for much of the late afternoon and evening hours of the 13th. Wind gusts to 50 mph, visibilities near zero and snowfall rates of 2 to 3 inches an hour were common. Thunder was also reported in some locations. Total snowfall ranged from 10 to 36 inches, with drifts of 6 to 10 feet. At the Pittsburgh International Airport, the storm dropped 24.3 inches of snow, of which, 23.6 fell in one calendar day. This broke the old calendar day record of 22.0 inches which fell on December 7, 1890. Elsewhere across the State, heavy snow reports were as follows: 36 inches at Latrobe, 27 inches at State College, 24 inches at Dubois, 18 inches at Bradford, 16 inches at Franklin, and 14 inches at Erie. At approximately 1500 EST on Saturday the 13th, Governor Casey declared a state of emergency. All airports across the State, including Pittsburgh International, were closed. All highways, including Interstate 80 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike were also closed. The National Guard was called upon to help rescue stranded travelers and clear roads. The state of emergency remained in effect through the following week. The Pittsburgh International Airport began limited operations on Sunday the 14th. Area interstate highways began opening late Sunday, and by Monday, all were opened. Revenues lost due to the storm were in the tens of millions. However, damage to property across western Pennsylvania was minimal when compared to actual storm magnitude. In Venango County, a warehouse collapsed from heavy snow. In Potter County, a commercial building collapsed, and two homes sustained roof damage from wind. In Mercer County a 50-foot awning collapsed in Greenville. Exposure. (M77O) (M63O)


Where did you get the event record details?
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John1122
post Dec 15 2008, 09:42 PM
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I recall the storm being forecast at least 4-5 days in advance by TWC and local forecasters. We have one forecaster who is very reluctant to forecast snow. We were predicted to get 12 inches from the storm. He said that was outrageous and that we might get 4-8 inches with 10+ only in the highest peaks of the Smoky Mountains.

We ended up with 25 inches here, drifts up to 10 feet and a low temp of -3 degrees a couple days after the storm. All of those are unprecedented for March in this area.

The highest elevations of the Smoky Mountains ended up with upwards of 5 feet of snow in a 24-30 hour period. The lodge keeper at Mt Leconte was on the news shortly after. He had to hike around to bring water and supplies into his cabin. He reported snow depths not even in drifts "up to my shoulders and I'm 6'3." Drifts of up to 15 feet up there.

I remember some students from Michigan were camping in the Smoky Mountains that weekend. They ended up having to be rescued. They said that even living in Michigan they'd never saw such a fearsome snow storm.


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First Frost: October 4th.

First Freeze: October 4th

First accumulating snowfall: November 5th 1/2 inch, November 6th 1/2 inch.

Largest Snow: 5.5 inches December 12th-13th

Coldest Max: 19 degrees December 13th.

Coldest Low: 3.8 degrees December 14th.

Total Snowfall to date: 8.25 inches

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post Jan 2 2009, 04:04 PM
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SnowMan11
post Jan 29 2009, 07:59 PM
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Superstorm of 93 forecast video.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44cHhoU0mwc...player_embedded


Alabama.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Inl10UIPIKM

This post has been edited by SnowMan11: Jan 29 2009, 09:16 PM


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96blizzard22701
post Mar 12 2009, 10:51 AM
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Found another great article at Capital Weather about the 93 storm.


Sixteen years ago this week, nearly the entire eastern third of the nation was ravaged March 12-14, 1993, by a massive storm often called "The Storm of the Century" (20th century, that is). More modestly -- on account of other storms that have rivaled in strength and impact, like the the "Blizzard of '78" -- it's called the "Superstorm of March '93."

For me, though, it will forever remain THE Big One -- and not just because of its intensity, size and associated extreme weather, including significant snow in the D.C. area. In a former life, my research was largely focused on the development, evolution and especially the predictability of extratropical cyclones (a fancy term for the typical U.S. storm system that usually has a cold front and warm front extending out from a low-pressure center), especially those occurring during the cold season along the East Coast.

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of this storm was that it was highly predictable.

I'll get back to the storm's predictability in a moment, but first please note there are many excellent accounts of the storm, its impacts and aftermath (e.g., here, here, and here). The main highlights?... the storm was characterized by hurricane-force winds, record snowfalls, and record low temperatures and barometric pressure readings. It may not have been the most severe blizzard on record, but it was the largest in terms of the area affected. Snowfall in the D.C. area ranged from 8 to 13 inches, with 18 inches north and west of the city in Frederick County. Tornadoes, thunderstorms and flooding occurred as the storm's trailing cold from barreled across the Southeast. The storm was blamed for 270 deaths and damages topping $6 billion.

Just how well was the storm predicted? This was the first time the National Weather Service (NWS) was able to accurately forecast a storm of this magnitude 5 to 6 days in advance -- and do so with a high level of confidence. Since then, however, similar forecasting successes in the medium range (3-10 days in advance) have been few and far between, even with the tremendous advances in atmospheric science, forecast models and computer power.

The only decent snowstorm locally this winter, which generally dumped 5-8" across the area March 1-2, most certainly was not included in the "few and far between," as confidence in the potential for significant snow didn't really come until just a couple days before, and confidence was fluctuating even as the storm got underway.

The key to understanding the exceptionally accurate medium-range forecasts of the Superstorm was, in fact, its size. Larger-scale weather systems are intrinsically "easier" to forecast. Thus, for example, large winter storms are more predictable than, for example, a summer line of thunderstorms. And, the Superstorm -- to the best of my knowledge -- was broader in areal extent than any other storm in recorded history.

In this regard, the measure relevant to the predictability of a weather system is its wavelength, or in other words the distance between the two high pressure centers on either side (west and east) of the low-pressure center. The wavelength of the Superstorm was about 3,500 miles. In comparison, the wavelength of the storm here earlier this month was approximately 2,100 miles. Not unusually, in both cases there were smaller-scale features (wavelength less than about 200 miles), such as snow bands and thunderstorms, embedded in the larger-scale circulations.

Recall from above that the Superstorm was not only predicted 5-6 days in advance, but done so with an unprecedented degree of confidence. There was skepticism in some quarters about this, including reluctance by many TV stations to buy into these early warnings; but, NWS stuck to its guns and proved correct. I, personally, played an important role in this. At the time I was among those at the NWS National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) who was pioneering the development and applications of an operational ensemble prediction system (background here; latest model output here).

Ensemble forecasting involves a single model being run multiple (nowadays up to 50) times, each time with a set of slightly different initial conditions in order to account for possible inaccuracies in the measured initial conditions. Each of these runs is known as an ensemble member, and together ensemble members provide a reasonably good portrayal of possible outcomes.

Although the system was still in its experimental phase in March 1993, output was made available to forecasters at NCEP's Hydrometeorological Prediction Center who provide guidance to all NWS local forecast offices. The long and short of this was that beginning 5-6 days in advance the ensembles consistently showed virtual unanimity amongst ensemble members in predicting the nature and severity of the impending Superstorm.

The rest is history with regard to the NWS's successful forecasting of this particular storm, and more generally a recognition of the importance of continued development and use of ensemble prediction for assessing uncertainties and levels of confidence in all weather forecasts. This led a few years ago to NCEP implementing its operational Short Range Ensemble Forecast System.

ASIDE: Last Friday night Erin Burnett, a CNBC anchor, was on HBO's Real Time With Bill Maher. In regard to the current economic crisis, Maher asked her, "Why didn't anybody there (CNBC) predict what was going to happen?" Her response: "CNBC did accurately forecast some elements of the crisis: The question of timing and magnitude, nobody got."

Sound familiar? Just replace the words " the current economic crisis" with "almost every D.C. snowstorm."


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maryland
post Mar 13 2009, 07:43 AM
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Today is the Anniversary of the storm.
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Snowjunkie
post Mar 13 2009, 05:30 PM
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Living in fla we didn't get any snow but what we got was major wind! I woke up to several downed 100 ft pine trees in my neighborhood. noone knew what had happened because it happened in the middle of the night. It was very cold afterward.
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post Mar 13 2009, 06:16 PM
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Here in Se Va it looked at first as if this would be a blizzard like none before it but as usual it tracked west at the last minute and we got 100mph+ winds and rain.
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WeatherMatrix
post Mar 13 2009, 07:51 PM
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I added a blog entry today with some graphics and astounding facts:

QUOTE
SELECTED WIND REPORTS:

144 MPH on Mount Washington, NH
131 MPH occurred at Grand Etang, Nova Scotia.
130 MPH at Havana, Cuba (estimated)
109 MPH in the Dry Tortugas (west of Key West, FL)

SELECTED SNOWFALL REPORTS:

60 inches on Mount LeConte, TN
50 inches on Mount Mitchell, NC (14-foot drifts)
44 inches in Snowshoe, WV
17 inches near Birmingham, AL (6-foot drifts)
4 inches in the Florida Panhandle

MISCELLANEOUS INCREDIBLE FACTS:

- 65-Foot waves were reported off of Nova Scotia, Canada.

- 28.38 inches pressure was measured at White Plains, NY (Cat 3 Hurricane Strength)*

- Havana, Cuba was blacked out during the storm; $1 billion damage in the country

- 60,000 lightning strikes were measured during the storm

- Hurricane-force winds caused hurricane-like damage in Florida, along with 11 tornadoes

- For the first time, every major airport on the East Coast was closed at one time or another by the storm.

- 300 Deaths were blamed on the storm in the U.S.

- 130 Million People (Half the nation's population) affected by the storm

- A 12-foot storm surge attacked Florida's west coast

- Hundreds of roofs collapsed due to snow up and down the East Coast

- New York City set a new record low (6) for March on the day after the storm

- The volume of rain that fell was equivalent to 40 days of Mississippi River flow at New Orleans

- Over 10 million customers lost electrical power during the storm

- At least 18 homes fell into the sea on Long Island due to the pounding surf.

- Extremely cold weather followed including a record low of 2 degrees in Birmingham AL


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noreaster
post Mar 13 2009, 08:39 PM
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It was essentially a huge sleet and freezing rain storm in Central NJ, but the biggest storm since 1987. The freezing rain fell on about 10-12 inches of snow and sleet, and with the record low the next day, the huge drifts were frozen solid and could not be removed easily. Schools remained closed for most of the week. Buses could not get around the side streets to pick up the kids. It set the stage for the next winter, which delivered a whopping 17 snowstorms to the region, which has not been equalled yet. For us, two bigger storms loomed, Jan 96 and President's Day storm 2003. i'll never forget the ferocity of the sleet blowing against the house like a sandstorm. Sebastian Junger reports that only one other storm came close in terms of low pressure, the famous Perfect Storm.
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dawgnkitten
post Mar 13 2009, 10:50 PM
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QUOTE(Snowjunkie @ Mar 13 2009, 07:30 PM) *
Living in fla we didn't get any snow but what we got was major wind! I woke up to several downed 100 ft pine trees in my neighborhood. noone knew what had happened because it happened in the middle of the night. It was very cold afterward.


At 2:30 my husband and I were woke up with a loud bang shaking our home...we jumped out of bed and ran to the back bedroom where my 3,2,and 1 year old were sleeping. My husband thought another car racing down the road missed the turn and flipped into a neighboring yard so he went back to the front door, opened it, and it flew out of his hands, ripping half of it off. We lived just south of Ft. Myers, FL at the time and was fixing on having a double birthday party for my 3 and 2 year old. No power, winds were blowing at 65 and gusting to 80. By the time the power came on 2 days later it was cold, we had to reinforce a 1/4 acre of fencing, get a new door, cut all the palm fronds on 25 palms in our yard that were twisted around each other, and still have a good party for the kids, which we did manage to do. That storm will stay with me, along with the Blizzard of 78 when I lived in Ohio forever.


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so_whats_happeni...
post Mar 14 2009, 01:56 PM
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Lets see unfortunately i was way to young to remember it! I do though remember hearing about it.... I lived in perkasie, PA SE PA and heard we got a decent amount of snow! The first big one was '96 when i first remembered... now that was fun!

I was born in '91 if anyone was wondering!

This post has been edited by so_whats_happening: Mar 14 2009, 01:57 PM


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Computer models and other important sites: http://southeastpaweather.blogspot.com/
Average: 23"
2008-2009 34" 148% of normal
2009-2010 74" 322% of normal
2010-2011 42" 183% of normal
Coldest Temp: 10
Average: 40.1"
Rainfall...32.10" (may be off by 1-2") well above average this year... Havent updated since Late july!
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fireman5214
post Mar 14 2009, 03:41 PM
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I was kindof young, only 7 going on 8 at the end of March when we had the blizzard of 1993. I remember distinctly that our dog at that time (pure breed Basset Hound0 wanted to go outside. Well we usually put her out the back door but we couldnt because of a 4' high snow drift and since the door is a full glass, we could see going out that way would be a bad idea. So we went out in the garage, went to open the garage door and the dog was right at the garage door waiting for it to go up just enough so she could go out and as soon as it went up just high enough for her head she walked forward 1 step and she had a face imprint into the snow drift that was in front of the door that we didnt know about. I remember that it her nose and face were imprinted into the snow like it was molded out of concrete. i don't remember if we took a pic or not but it would be a fun pic to have if we did have one. I also have a few stories for the 1996 blizzard as well. rolleyes.gif


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post Mar 14 2009, 10:05 PM
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Jesse - I went to school with you at UNCA at the same time and even majored in Atmospheric Sciences with you for a while before switching to Marketing. I played baseball at the time and we had a weekend series at Charleston Southern the weekend of the storm. We played a doubleheader Friday and had a game scheduled Saturday, but it got cancelled as the storm arrived. By the time darkness rolled around Saturday night rolled around, it was raining heavily and the winds were howling. As Sunday became a reality, Charleston was pretty much shut down as the winds were at Cat 1-Cat 2 status. When the storm started to wind down, I can remember the precip turning to snow for a few hours on the back end, which was incredible considering we essentially had ridden out a small hurricane up to that point. To make a long story short, we didn't make it back to UNCA for another 4-5 days as the roads from essentially Greenville, SC up to Asheville were impassable due to the high snow totals. When we finally rolled into town mid-week around St. Patty's Day, we couldn't believe our eyes. Having experienced that storm first-hand, it's easy to agree with the "Storm of the Century" title it now carries. - George Young, UNCA Class of '95-
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mmi16
post Mar 15 2009, 12:44 AM
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QUOTE(Snowjunkie @ Mar 13 2009, 07:30 PM) *
Living in fla we didn't get any snow but what we got was major wind! I woke up to several downed 100 ft pine trees in my neighborhood. noone knew what had happened because it happened in the middle of the night. It was very cold afterward.

I was living in Jacksonville at the time. I had raced the prior weekend at Road Atlanta, with perfect Spring time weather in the 70's. The following weekend there was a event scheduled at Atlanta Motor Speedway - that got canceled because of snow in the Atlanta area.

In Jacksonville, when the winds came through several of the apartments across from my Condo lost serious shingles on the roof's. Trees were downed in various parts of town and the wind gusts were reported to be higher than Hurricane force.


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TJ Schulte
post Mar 15 2009, 09:02 AM
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This was the Superstorm not Storm of the Century. That title belongs to the January Blizzard of 1978.


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post Mar 15 2009, 02:03 PM
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QUOTE(TJ Schulte @ Mar 15 2009, 11:02 AM) *
This was the Superstorm not Storm of the Century. That title belongs to the January Blizzard of 1978.


I agree, but it depends on how you measure it. Supposedly, the record keepers factored in cost/damage/impact instead of strength. rolleyes.gif

FWIW, The Blizzard of '78 was the storm of the century before '93. wink.gif

This post has been edited by wfreeck: Mar 15 2009, 02:04 PM
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Hope
post Mar 15 2009, 05:56 PM
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Our son was on spring break from Appalachian State College in Boone, NC, and because of the storm forecast and since they had not ever canceled classes due to weather, he decided not wait for his ride on Sunday and wanted us to drive him back on Friday. We lived in Atlanta at the time, and the forecast was for the storm to start on Saturday. Our plan was to drive up to Boone, drop our son and drive back through Scaly Mountain, NC where my brother lived and have dinner with his family. Well, the sky was kind of a yellow green going up to Boone and it was cold but no precip. After we dropped our son, coming back through Asheville it started snowing a little. By the time we got to my brother's it had stopped. We went to dinner at a restaurant in Cashiers. About 9 the owner started walking around from table to table telling people that it was snowing hard and that they were closing. We headed back to Scaly Mountain and it was quite a drive with snow coming down really hard and every bit sticking. We were listening to the ACC Tournament on the car radio, and it was exciting, too. When we got to Scaly Mountain we left our low slung sedan at the post office and rode to my brother's house in his SUV. There was no question of our trying to make it back to Atlanta. It snowed all night, all the next day and into the next night. The power went off and came back on but mostly stayed off. We could hear little bits of what was happening elsewhere on the radio and they did get one Atlanta TV station. We went outside to take pictures on Saturday wearing ski masks to protect our faces from the cold. The thermometer read -6. The wind was blowing so hard it blew little needles of snow right through our ski masks. When it was all over the snow came up even with my brother's porch, about 3 feet. It was a great adventure. We cooked on the wood stove and played games by candlelight. We were there until the next Tuesday when we walked out to the highway to our car. My brother was stranded there until they could get someone to blade their drive, almost a mile from the highway.

Meanwhile, in Boone we found out later that our son was one of only a few students back in town. When the snow stopped he found that he could not open the screen door to get out of his apartment and had to climb out a window. The power was out in the whole town. He said the snow covered the ATM's but with the power out they were useless. The school was closed for classes for the first time ever. He and a few friends got together in one apartment that had a fireplace. They found a convenience store open that gave them credit. Debit cards were not in use then like now.

We, too, now live in Scaly Mountain near my brother, where each winter we wait for the next big one. Reading the Southeast Forum, seeing the same people for a couple of years now, I know that we are all waiting for the same thing, and I always get excited when someone says, "Can you say Blizzard of '93?".
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TJ Schulte
post Mar 15 2009, 09:20 PM
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QUOTE(wfreeck @ Mar 15 2009, 04:03 PM) *
I agree, but it depends on how you measure it. Supposedly, the record keepers factored in cost/damage/impact instead of strength. rolleyes.gif

FWIW, The Blizzard of '78 was the storm of the century before '93. wink.gif


The Blizzard of '78 dropped larger snow totals over flat land.(The mountains don't count) Toledo got 28" of snow from that storm and a 94 mph windgust that broke the anemometer at Toledo Airport. Also the pressure was lower and the windchill was colder -60.



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post Mar 16 2009, 07:47 AM
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QUOTE(TJ Schulte @ Mar 15 2009, 11:20 PM) *
The Blizzard of '78 dropped larger snow totals over flat land.(The mountains don't count) Toledo got 28" of snow from that storm and a 94 mph windgust that broke the anemometer at Toledo Airport. Also the pressure was lower and the windchill was colder -60.



I suppose the subject is debatable.

Let's just say it was a tie.
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