The 1993 Storm of the Century was a massive storm that took place in North America from March 12 to 15, 1993. It is also known as the Great Blizzard of 1993 and the 93 Superstorm. The storm formed in the Gulf of Mexico before it traversed through the United States and into Canada before dissipating in the North Atlantic. Florida was the most heavily damaged, although the storm also affected Alabama, parts of Canada, Mexico, and Cuba.
Forecast of the Storm
Before the storm, heavy snow was reported in northern Georgia and Alabama with the city of Birmingham, Alabama reporting 18 inches of snow. Parts of Florida reported 4 inches of snow with low barometric pressure and strong hurricane-force winds. The metrological department of the United States predicted a large storm building up in the Gulf of Mexico, and by March 8th, the probable path of the storm had been mapped. Storm warnings were issued across the United States and Canada two days before the storm.
Path of the Storm
On March 11th and 12th, temperatures across the eastern United States dropped significantly as a high-pressure system built over the Great Plains and the Midwest. At the same time, a low-pressure system was forming in the Gulf of Mexico. A subtropical jet stream formed unusually far south in Central America extending from Honduras to Jamaica. The jet stream fused with the low-pressure area in the Gulf of Mexico resulting in a cyclone that moved quickly across Florida and Cuba. The storm moved across eastern US landing several inches of snow in Washington DC before crossing over into Canada.
Aftermath of the Storm
The storm left 318 people dead and damaged property worth six billion dollars. About 2.5 million people were left without power and communication. Forecast and early warning prevented more deaths and damages as people vacated the streets and the lowlands.
Florida bore the brunt of the storm and the federal government declared a disaster in 21 of the 61 counties. In total, 18,000 homes were damaged by the storm but the situation was much worse because Florida was recovering from Hurricane Andrew that head struck the state in 1992. The then Florida Governor Lawton Chiles accused the local emergency service and the National Weather Service of not doing enough to prevent deaths. Weather forecast disaster prediction was modernized across the eastern coast to prevent a similar occurrence from causing deaths of such magnitude.
In Cuba, wind speeds reached 100/mph in Havana. The storm remains the most damaging in the history of the country after it left 10 people dead and damages of over US$1 billion.