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The Historic Blizzard of   March 12-14, 1993
 

Event Summary:

The March 12-14 1993 North American blizzard impacted north Alabama and southern middle Tennessee produced heavy snowfall and extreme societal impacts across the Tennessee Valley. Several snowfall records were set across Alabama and Tennessee from this event. This blizzard was also referred to as the "Storm of the Century" and/or the "1993 Superstorm" due to its large scale and widespread record-breaking snowfall it produced from the Northern Gulf Coast of Alabama and Florida, the chain of the Appalachians Mountains, and into the Northeast and New England.

The intense low pressure system formed in the Gulf of Mexico early on March 12 and pushed across southern Alabama and Georgia, before rapidly moving up the East Coast. At least 14 persons died in southern middle Tennessee and north Alabama, all due to exposure, and damage estimates in 1993 dollars exceeded $100 million. Of the 14 deaths, six people died after abandoning their vehicles, seven more died outside, and one person died at home. The weight of the snow combined with wind gusts in excess of 50 mph knocked out power, collapsed numerous roofs, and downed thousands of trees across the area.

At the height of the storm, over 400,000 residences were without electricity. In some locations, roads remained impassable for nearly a week, hampering emergency and relief efforts. Snow amounts ranged from greater than four inches in northwest Alabama to at or greater than a foot of snow in portions of the higher elevations of northeast Alabama and southern middle Tennessee. This powerful storm system would have been a category two on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane intensity scale due to the strength of the winds. Following the storm, record cold invaded the area. The deep snow cover, combined with clear skies and light winds, dropped temperatures to single digits to near zero on the morning of March 14 across much of north Alabama and southern middle Tennessee. These unusually cold temperatures were around 35 degrees below normal for mid March.

Estimated Snowfall Produced by the March 1993 blizzard across the NWS Huntsville CWA. Note the heaviest snow fell along the Cumberland Plateau region of Northeast Alabama and Southern Middle Tennessee where between 12-18 inches was observed. 

A broader look at the snowfall produced by the 1993 blizzard. Note the wide swath of heavy snow from the Gulf of Mexico to New England!
 
Satellite image of the heavy snow pack two days after the 1993 blizzard (March 15, 1993). Note the heavier snow (brighter white) across Central and North Alabama and East Tennessee!
 

Location

Snowfall Total (Inches): 3/12-3/14/1993

 Valley Head, Alabama 17.7 inches
 Winchester, Tennessee 13 inches
 Albertville, Alabama   12 inches
 Fort Payne, Alabama 12 inches
 Scottsboro, Alabama  12 inches
 Hanceville, Alabama 11 inches
 Cullman, Alabama 10 inches
 Guntersville, Alabama  9 inches
 Moulton, Alabama 8.3 inches
 Decatur, Alabama 8 inches
 Huntsville, Alabama 7.3 inches
 Belle Mina, Alabama 7 inches
 Athens, Alabama 7 inches
 Fayetteville, Tennessee 6 inches
 Muscle Shoals, Alabama 4.6 inches
 
Road crews attempt to clear heavy snow on Airport Road in Huntsville. Photo credit: Huntsville Times/Alabama Media Group.
 
Heavy snowdrifts surround a mobile home and vehicle in the Aroney community in Northeast Alabama along the DeKalb/Etowah County border. Photo credit: Tony Bearden and Mike Wilhelm.