10 Year Anniversary of the Superstorm - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Mar. 12-14, 2003

10 Year Anniversary of the Superstorm

The weekend of March 12-14, 1993, brought about the most powerful nor'easter since 1888 to the east coast.  Early in the week, meteorologists had been forecasting a significant winter storm for the east coast that weekend, and as it got closer and closer to the event, the computer models continued to paint a bleek picture for the eastern seaboard.  The system developed over the Gulf of Mexico on Friday, March 12, 1993, and brought tornadoes to Florida, Mexico, and Cuba that night while the storm system rapidly strengthened. 

On Saturday the 13th, wind gusts over 90 mph were recorded at Figure 8 Island in New Hanover County and in Myrtle Beach, as well as 71 mph at Wilmington International Airport.  Numberous trees were knocked down across the area, and several buildings were damaged including a tobacco warehouse in Lumberton.  Major beach erosion and a storm surge--something usually attributed to hurricanes--occurred along area beaches.  The rough seas and high waves grounded or destroyed many boats.  Snow fell in the southern Appalachians, including over 4 feet at Mt. Mitchell, NC (with 14 ft. drifts) and heavy rains fell near the coast (Wilmington picked up 1.76" of rain, a record for that day).  The snow spread northward through Washington, DC, and eventually into New England and eastern Canada (on the 14th).  A barometric pressure 28.38" was recorded in White Plains, NY--that's in the range of a category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale.

After the storm passed, record cold air moved in.  On the morning of the 15th, the low dipped to 22 degrees in Wilmington, setting a new record for the day.

270 people were killed by the Superstorm of '93 (19 of those in NC), more than 3 times as many as were killed by Hurricanes Hugo & Andrew combined.

By Skywarn Meteorologist Mark Avery

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