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Blizzard of '93 glazed Augusta with record cold

Tuesday, March 12, 2013 9:00 AM
Last updated 11:39 PM
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It was an eerily unforeseen storm that remains unrivaled in severity — even after two decades.

  1993 Augusta Chronicle file
1993 Augusta Chronicle file

Wednesday marks the 20-year anniversary of the bizarre “Blizzard of 93” that glazed much of Georgia to a standstill with wind-whipped snow and sub-zero chill factors.

It was just a week before the official start of spring, with azaleas and dogwoods already budding in Augusta.

And then came the bizarre collision of Arctic cold and Gulf moisture that covered the northern part of the state with blankets of snow and slammed its southern portions with high wind and rains.

Airports were closed and governors declared emergencies as 1.5 million southerners were without power and thousands of travelers were stranded at airports and iced-over highways.

In Augusta, residents endured a dusting of snow and chill factors that dipped to -5 degrees, but in other parts of the state, the worst winter storm in 105 years took a heavy toll.

In South Carolina the Aiken Trials horse race was halted.

As the New York Times reported, the Georgia National Guard used giant Chinook helicopters to fly utility crews and heavy equipment to remote areas, and snow drifts in Boone, N.C., were measured at more than 21 feet after heavy snows fell, including 50 inches on Mount Mitchell. To the south, hurricane-force winds, surging coastal tides and dozens of tornadoes were reported.

In all, the fast moving storm claimed more than 112 lives as it moved from Florida along the Eastern Seaboard and into Canada, just two days later.

This week’s forecast for Augusta has no hint of snow, calling instead for highs in the 60s and 70s and lows in the upper 30s and 40s, according to the National Weather Service.

BLIZZARD OF 93 DETAILS

Wind gusts as high as 70 mph over the entire state

Crop loss estimated from 25-50 million dollars

Property damage from wind estimated 15-20 million dollars

Snow totals 18-24 inches from Rome to Clayton

Snow totals 24-30 inches over Fannin and Union counties

Wind chills approached 20 below zero

More than 120 carpet businesses were destroyed or damaged in northwest Georgia

Ninety chicken houses were destroyed, killing at least 1.3 million chickens

Travel across extreme north Georgia, especially along I-75 was brought to a standstill for up to a week following blizzard conditions.

SOURCE: 11Alive.com/Atlanta

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