Wednesday and Thursday will be unseasonably cold with highs only in the upper 30s to mid 40s at most locations (normals are in the 50s). There may be a few snow showers (mixed with rain in the afternoons Roanoke and east) as a couple of weak disturbances move through, adding to the effects of northwesterly flow squeezing some moisture out blowing up and over the mountains. We’ll warm up closer to normal (50s for highs) by the weekend, with some precipitation chances early next week — most likely rain, as it looks now.
I can scarcely imagine what this blog would have been like if it existed 20 years ago with an epic storm moving out of the Gulf of Mexico up the East Coast (somewhat inland into Virginia) bringing blizzard conditions to Southwest Virginia on March 12-13, 1993. (The satellite image from NOAA at left would have been late on March 13 — Southwest Virginia is actually getting dry-slotted at this point after a day of heavy snow and wind). I like to do a few historical weather stories from time to time, but I’m not a big fan of anniversary retrospectives on weather events. That said, a few events are deserving of such a look back. The 20th anniversary of the 1993 Superstorm is definitely worthy, considering its uniqueness and impact in American weather history, and the intense local effects. My Weather Journal column today only really scratches the surface of its local, regional and national impacts — a refresher more than a retrospective. But here are a few other links to provide deeper perspective.
I’ll leave it to the readers who were in this region during the Superstorm to fill in the depth locally. Feel free to leave a comment below about your experiences in the Blizzard of ’93.
For those who’ve asked about the Blacksburg snow-depth issue — why it was initially reported at 32 inches in the media, including The Roanoke Times, but the official record is 18 inches — I have no answers yet. But there are some folks looking into it, and I’ll let you know if a 32-inch measurement turns up. I know many of you are already convinced the higher total is correct. Intense drifting made the actual snowfall difficult to measure everywhere, and the National Weather Service was not emphasizing acquiring snowfall data in as much detail as it does today.
While it’s doubtful we will ever in our lifetimes see an atmospheric setup that closely mimics the 1993 Superstorm, it is only a matter of time till another powerful Miller A winter storm blasts up the East Coast and buries us in a foot or two (or three) of snow. How much time is what we don’t know.