Looking back at the Superstorm of 1993, 25 years later

Storm of the Century still ranks as most destructive nor'easter

Courtesy of NOAA, NWS, Tim Armstrong

ROANOKE, Va. – The Mid-Atlantic region is no stranger to March snow.

Monday, southwest Virginia picked up a good 3 to 6 inches.

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However, that's nothing compared to the historical storm that unleashed its fury 25 years ago, a storm that is still referred to as the Storm of the Century.

To this day, it is still ranked as the most intense nor'easter to ever be observed over the Eastern United States. 

The perfect storm plowed up the eastern third of the country March 12-14, 1993.

States were paralyzed from the Gulf of Mexico to Maine, resulting in more than 200 deaths and billions in property damage.

An area of low pressure developed in the Gulf and rapidly intensified into the monster storm. 

It made “landfall” on March 13 and it brought damaging winds and 11 confirmed tornadoes across Florida.

Storm surges of up to 12 feet high swept houses out to sea according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

As the low continued to move inland, it came into contact with cold air.

Widespread blizzard conditions and heavy snow blasted nearly two dozen states.

The highest snowfall total was reported in Mount LeConte, Tennessee, which picked up a whopping 60 inches.

Mount Mitchell, North Carolina, came in second place with a staggering 50 inches, which stayed on the ground well into the month of April. 

Winds continued to increase as a result of a strong pressure gradient ahead of a deepening low.

Gusts neared hurricane force speeds, causing widespread wind damage from Florida to the Carolina coast.

Storm surges and beach erosion destroyed multiple homes, and many people were left in the dark as power lines were shorted out by salt spray. 

Locally, snowfall accumulations of 20 inches or more fell along and west of the Blue Ridge.

Roanoke picked up an impressive 16 inches.

The weight of the snow collapsed roofs, snow drifts were as high as 10 feet, and thousands of people were left stranded on area interstates. 

Nearly a dozen people in southwest Virginia died as a result of the storm.

About the Author:

Beverly Perry is an Emmy award-winning meteorologist who came to Roanoke in September 2017.