Wednesday, March 13, 2013

20th Anniversary of March 1993 Superstorm

The cover of the Montreal Gazette on March 14, 1993 said it all. This was the paper I could not get distributed because of the storm. (ValleyWX pic)
  It was one of the biggest storms to affect eastern North America since weather keeping began. The storm stretched thousands of miles from Quebec down to Cuba. It was responsible for hundreds of deaths, damage in the hundreds of millions and delays and closures that lasted for days. It was the March 13-15, 1993 Superstorm.

The storm was incredible on satellite images, stretching across all of eastern North America.
It was a textbook Nor'Easter that unleashed powerful winds and heavy precipitation across its entire path. Heavy snow and record cold occurred from the deep south to Montreal and points north and east. Here in the St. Lawrence Valley the snow started on Saturday, March 13 at around 3pm and became very intense during the evening and overnight hours when visibility dropped to zero for several hours. Winds gusted to well over 80km/h and about 40cm accumulated in Montreal in about 12 hours. The pressure dropped to an impressive low at Trudeau Airport, 973mb. Across eastern Ontario and western New York up to 60cm fell. The storm closed all the bridges in Montreal as well as several highways during the height of the storm and rivaled the blizzard of 1971. Highways up and down the east coast were closed including several major interstates. Most airports were closed and it would be days before air travel returned to normal.
The snow was deep from Atlantic Canada to Georgia with over 40cm in southern Quebec and up to 60cm in New York and Ontario.
For me personally, it was the first time in my 20 or so years with the Montreal Gazette that we could not get the trucks down to the loading docks to distribute the newspaper. I had a very rare night off as I tracked the storm.  Luckily it was a Sunday so many were at home anyway, had this storm occurred on a weekday the impacts in Montreal would have been tremendous. Record cold surged in after the storm with Montreal dropping to a March record low of -23.9C on the morning of the 15th. The storm was part of a snowy March and April that saw 69.2cm of snow in March and 41.6cm in April for Montreal, delaying the onset of spring 1993.

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