Recollections of Blizzard
of March 12-14, 1993

By Grant and Yolanda Goodge - Former Fairview Forest Residents

Would The Big Storm Happen?

Blizzard of March 12-14, 1993 - Photo by Grant GoodgeIt was Friday, March 12th, 1993, and we were finishing another week of work at the National Climatic Data Center and wondering whether the major snow storm that had been forecast for the previous 4 days would actually materialize. Like most everyone else at the Center, we kept an eye on the weather conditions outside and when it started snowing at 1 pm we prepared to leave for home. Seventeen years living on the Mountain had taught us that even though we had a 4-wheel drive vehicle did not mean we could get home if the roads were blocked with stranded vehicles. In 1978 we were unable to leave ahead of an 8 inch snow and it took us 4 hours to finally reach home. Fortunately that was not the case in the 1993 Blizzard. We travelled straight home this time with no problem and watched as the snow ended at 5:30 pm with only about an inch having accumulated. By then we wondered if we had wasted 4 hours of annual leave, however it wasn’t long until we changed our minds. Snow began again at 6 pm and continued at a moderate intensity through midnight with 5.8 inches on the ground by then.

The Snow Became Heavy

Blizzard of March, 1993 - Photo by Grant GoodgeWinds were calm mid-afternoon but slowly increased from the southeast by nightfall and as the center of the low pressure approached from south Georgia the wind direction shifted to the ENE at 25 gust 40 mph. Snow became heavy after midnight and by 7 am on Saturday (the 13th) there was 15.5 inches on the ground in the protected areas. The areas of our yard that were exposed to the NE were almost clear of snow due to the strong winds that were gusting to 70 mph.

The Temperatures Plunged

The strong NE winds decreased quickly and also shifted to the N and then NW. During this same time the snow became mixed with sleet and was accompanied by several cloud to cloud lightning discharges. Once the wind had shifted to the NW, temperatures began to fall from the mid 20’s mid-day down to 7 degrees by midnight, and during this time the snow continued moderate to heavy and was being driven by winds that were gusting to 80+ mph with several gusts in the 90’s. Then at 4:33 pm we had our peak gust of at least 101 mph. The true speed of that gust and others were actually a bit higher since there was light rime ice on the cups of the wind speed sensor that slowed their rotation and thus the indicated speeds. My estimate of the true speed of the peak gust was about 105 mph. As those who experienced this storm no doubt remember, the sound of those strong gusts were deafening. Gusts of 80 mph continued into the early morning hours of Sunday (the 14th) along with continued light snow, blowing snow and drifting snow. Unlike thousands of people throughout the mountain regions, the Mountain fortunately never lost electrical power during the storm. The total snowfall during the storm was 26.2 inches with a melt-water equivalent of 2.24 inches.

Buried In Snow Drifts
Blizzard of March, 1993 - Photo by Grant Goodge
Many who lived in the higher elevations of the mountain were stranded for days until a kind gentleman hiked half-way up the mountain the following Tuesday, climbed aboard his bulldozer that had been using to clear a site for a new home before the storm, and proceeded to plow our 8+ miles of road that were buried in 4-6 foot drifts. These drifts had also stranded even the regular snow plowing equipment.

Photos: Snow photos taken at the Goodge residence at the top of the Mountain. Lower photo: Bulldozer on Apple Forest Road in an area where the strong winds had kept the snow depth to about 10 inches, but around the corner the drifts were as high as the driver.