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90sBlizzards

Winter of 1993-1994

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Can we get some legitimate numbers put up here about averages, state by state, records, etc? 

https://www.fredericknewspost.com/blogs/blogs_collection/free_state_weather/recalling-the-january-arctic-outbreak/article_cad06adc-7ba5-5e22-8a46-a4aad71554c8.html

January of 94, through May 1 of 94, was the very definition of winter bliss in the United States. It is the coldest, snowiest, longest stretch without a warmup winter you will ever find. Every...single...morning for seemingly months was way below zero with double digit below zero windchills for numerous states. This, combined with record snowpack and snowfall, led to an environment for many of us that was akin to Greenland, Northern Russia, and the mountains of Japan. When people sit in 10 degree weather in January and complain today, I laugh inside because they would have been sitting in weather twenty to forty degrees colder back in January of '94. With windchills that are off the charts. The total package of huge snow drifts, 20-45+mph wind gusts every other day, a huge snowstorm every Wednesday and Saturday, and the coldest weather on record (period), I - at 36 now - know that I may live to be 100 in this same area of the northeast and never, ever see any winter like this. The closest winters are 1995-1996 and 2002-2003 and honestly, they were puppy dogs compared to 93-94. As an 11-12 year old, you really did have to watch where you went out and played in the snow that year. And we did go out and play in it extensively. There were drifts so extreme in the woods that you could easily not see a 20-30 foot ridge and step right into it, falling deep into the snow. It was wild. We had caves, forts, huge sleigh riding trails and jumps, etc. I was growing up 45-50 miles nw of NYC at the time and when we hit our twentieth day off from school (yes, twenty guys) there were huge meetings in the entire northeast about extending school through July that year. That never happened but we *did* see our 30th day off from school that season with two dozen (yes) one or two hour delays (don't even know if they do these anymore). This all happened within 100 days and was something in my childhood that I will remember forever. On one occasion, can't remember the date but it was def in late Jan - the school district tried to squeeze a day in as they knew they were looking at months more of this. We got to school at 8:45am. By 9:45am, there was *blinding* snowfall with legitimately nice winds and winter storm warnings upgraded to blizzard warnings. 18-30" inches forecasted in the Hudson Valley. They immediately dismissed the whole district, youngest to oldest. As a 6th grader at the time, I was right in the middle. I got onto my bus at about 12:30pm and we didn't even make it five miles. Thundersnow w/ lightning, wind+drifts, and closed roads. Parents who had SUV's, as well as people who worked at the bus garage with them, had to come pick up kids off the bus which was stuck in a huge snow drift, in the middle of the road, literally covered up to the hood by the time I got picked up by my mom lol. 

 

I do complain about snow+cold now as an adult but I would sign onto another winter like this in a heartbeat, right now. It was winter epic. 

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1994_North_American_cold_wave

Sussex, NJ hit a -26f low on Jan 21, 1994. Wind Chills must have been 50 below into the Hudson Valley where I was, and 60 below into New England, as these temps were surrounded by ridiculously wound high pressure systems producing consistently windy days/nights. Bitter, bitter cold. You could hear the trees literally cracking/freezing. No water, anywhere, wasn't frozen. With a wet summer/fall before this, lake/river heights were extremely high and when you threw on this much snow/ice/cold for months - the landscape really didn't look the same until May. Everything was raised up several feet. It was legitimately overwhelming. 

Edited by 90sBlizzards

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https://ipfs.io/ipfs/QmXoypizjW3WknFiJnKLwHCnL72vedxjQkDDP1mXWo6uco/wiki/1994_North_American_cold_wave.html

Shelbyville, Kentucky hit -37f (negative 37f) on January 19, 1994. That's absolutely off the charts. Again - Folks in Montana, the Dakotas, Michigan, Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsyvlania, NJ, New York, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, DC, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and into the northern Gulf States were seeing -35to -65f wind chills. 

I will always contend: Worst overall winter on record in this country. Or best, depending upon how you look at it. I actually have to dig into this more and am hoping others will chime in. If it was -37f in KY and -30f in Penn on those dates, wind chills in some states must have exceeded -65f in some states on or around those dates. 30, 40, 50, even 60mph winds were abrew in many states. 

Edited by 90sBlizzards

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An unusually cold & large area of high pressure from the Arctic dropped southward across the Great Lakes, the Ohio and Tennessee Valley all the way to the Gulf Coast. At 2 a.m. on Jan. 18, the temperatures across Northern Ohio dropped below zero degrees F. They did not rise above zero degrees again until a full 56 hours later, at 10 on Jan. 20. That's the longest we've stayed below zero during modern record keeping! --

https://www.news5cleveland.com/weather/winter/historic-cold-record-low-temperatures-invaded-northern-ohio-19-years-ago-this-week

 

It was even colder in Akron and Canton. Temperatures there dropped to -25 degrees F. That too is an all time record low! What's even more astounding: in Millersburg, Ohio, in quiet Holmes County, one thermometer measured an unbelievable -35 degrees F! These record lows still stand today.

 

 

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I actually spent time in Holmes County, Ohio from 2001-2005. On and off. There wouldn't *be* a thermometer that would measure that low in those homes in 1994. Someone measuring -35f was a weather enthusiast, obviously. And outdoor thermometer would have been broken before then and an indoor one, or one sheltered to any degree (any one still working) would have been dozens of degrees off. The fact is, in 1994, it wouldn't really read much lower than that on top end equip, either. To take windchills into account, and then move 100+ miles north into Michigan, and east into Pennsylvania/New York - No way we didn't break -65f wind chills. I don't really see how that's not being conservative in some cases either. I don't know what's documented but I've been in -35 to -45 wind chills since then and I insist that even just north of NYC on those dates was noticeably and memorably colder than that. 

Edited by 90sBlizzards

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https://fox41blogs.typepad.com/wdrb_weather/2014/01/remembering-the-january-1994-record-snowcold.html

I didn't even read them extensively, but if you think I'm exaggerating about my location north of NYC, look at what folks wrote in the comments from Kentucky about those dates. 3-5' snow drifts with -37f (non wind chill) recorded in Kentucky. When are you going to see that again? 

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I do see on one of the links that wind chills in Chicago did hit -70f during the late Jan 94 arctic outbreak. United Airlines cancelled almost half of it's flights on the coldest day of this stretch due to cold temperatures. That's insane. 

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I lived in Youngstown OH at the time and tallied 55” on the season which is about average. The two biggest falls were 6” and 6.5”, the rest nickel and dime stuff. As usual, NE inland OH missed out on the big synoptic events of that winter. The most amazing stat (somewhat uncommon for the area) is that I had 60 consecutive days of snow cover, even without any heavy falls.  As you note above, it was a might chilly. It’s rare to not rise above zero for a high, let alone 56 consecutive hours in NE OH!!

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On 11/8/2018 at 7:27 PM, Hiramite said:

I lived in Youngstown OH at the time and tallied 55” on the season which is about average. The two biggest falls were 6” and 6.5”, the rest nickel and dime stuff. As usual, NE inland OH missed out on the big synoptic events of that winter. The most amazing stat (somewhat uncommon for the area) is that I had 60 consecutive days of snow cover, even without any heavy falls.  As you note above, it was a might chilly. It’s rare to not rise above zero for a high, let alone 56 consecutive hours in NE OH!!

Still, 55" isn't bad for your location but indeed, you're in a bad spot in Ohio for high yearly totals. East of you, into PA and the Northeast, we saw what is in many areas still #1 seasonal totals. I can't specifically (but I'm looking) remember a huge 2'+ hit that year although there had to be at least one. I do remember 12-18" with high winds every Wed and Sat for a few months straight, though with absolutely no melting of any kind for the entire time. The frequency of these storms was ridiculous. One Friday - Saturday I was up in Boston with my father (went on a quick business trip with him) and we came back through a pretty rough New England blizzard. Definitely 4"+ snowfall rates with 40-50+mph winds. It seemed to be right before the dates of this Jan 19-Feb 1 arctic outbreak referred to in the links. In any event, the snowpack was laughably deep for areas just 30+ miles inland from the coast that winter. Once you got 50-70+ miles inland, we were just blanketed for months. 

Edited by 90sBlizzards

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I remember this winter well.  I was a freshman in college in Emmitsburg, MD, so we got a lot more snow than Baltimore did.  December wasn't much to write home about, it was not memorable, but right after New Year's I went back to school for track practice and we got round after round of snow.  Every few days a few inches fell (exception was a 17" snow thrown in there).  Baltimore was getting sleet and ice; my father reported 4" solid ice in his back yard in Bel Air, MD around mid January...he said he needed a maul to break through to the grass.

Right after a windy, snowy day that got us out of classes just after they started back, that windy, arctic day (January 19th) hit, where temperatures were dropping through the single digits and I ran a hill workout...I was wearing a winter hat that froze to my hair and it took me a good 5 minutes for it to thaw enough to remove it.  The next morning classes got cancelled because it was -28F!  None of the professors could start their cars and away from I-95 corridor and the bay it was double digits below zero everywhere.  We did not get to zero that day, our high was -1F in Emmitsburg, and it was the first zero day I had ever experienced...it would take 20+ years and a move to NH to get another one. 

The rounds of snow continued into February.  On February 11th (I think) we got 4" of sleet.  Usually when it sleets we're talking an hour or two, it usually changes to rain or snow, and usually not very heavy, but this sleet came in a downpour that lasted all day long and into the evening.  I have never seen anything like it before or since.

A professor at my college wrote The Hagerstown Almanac's weather prognostication section and was nailing storm after storm with his method all winter long from a forecast he made in August.  He got some national media attention and I think he was on Good Morning America.

We got more snow into March (I think March 2nd was 5" Bel Air....I was on "spring break" and 14" in Emmitsburg).  A solid 1-2 feet stayed on the ground at school late into March.  Other than that cold wave in January it was not spectacularly cold, but it never warmed up either.  No 60F midwinter thaw.  40's were unusual.  Even the winter of 2013-14 sported a couple brief but sharp warmups, so 1993-94 is still the winner in terms of relentless.  When I went to a track meet at NC State in mid March it was 70F and felt like July to me.

Finally in early April it warmed up.  We'd get more snow just 2 years later in 1995-96, but the cold was overall not quite as strong and definitely not quite as persistent.  One warmup a couple weeks after the Blizzard of 1996 caused historic flooding on the Susquehanna River.

 

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On 11/18/2018 at 2:46 AM, kpk33x said:

I remember this winter well.  I was a freshman in college in Emmitsburg, MD, so we got a lot more snow than Baltimore did.  December wasn't much to write home about, it was not memorable, but right after New Year's I went back to school for track practice and we got round after round of snow.  Every few days a few inches fell (exception was a 17" snow thrown in there).  Baltimore was getting sleet and ice; my father reported 4" solid ice in his back yard in Bel Air, MD around mid January...he said he needed a maul to break through to the grass.

Right after a windy, snowy day that got us out of classes just after they started back, that windy, arctic day (January 19th) hit, where temperatures were dropping through the single digits and I ran a hill workout...I was wearing a winter hat that froze to my hair and it took me a good 5 minutes for it to thaw enough to remove it.  The next morning classes got cancelled because it was -28F!  None of the professors could start their cars and away from I-95 corridor and the bay it was double digits below zero everywhere.  We did not get to zero that day, our high was -1F in Emmitsburg, and it was the first zero day I had ever experienced...it would take 20+ years and a move to NH to get another one. 

The rounds of snow continued into February.  On February 11th (I think) we got 4" of sleet.  Usually when it sleets we're talking an hour or two, it usually changes to rain or snow, and usually not very heavy, but this sleet came in a downpour that lasted all day long and into the evening.  I have never seen anything like it before or since.

A professor at my college wrote The Hagerstown Almanac's weather prognostication section and was nailing storm after storm with his method all winter long from a forecast he made in August.  He got some national media attention and I think he was on Good Morning America.

We got more snow into March (I think March 2nd was 5" Bel Air....I was on "spring break" and 14" in Emmitsburg).  A solid 1-2 feet stayed on the ground at school late into March.  Other than that cold wave in January it was not spectacularly cold, but it never warmed up either.  No 60F midwinter thaw.  40's were unusual.  Even the winter of 2013-14 sported a couple brief but sharp warmups, so 1993-94 is still the winner in terms of relentless.  When I went to a track meet at NC State in mid March it was 70F and felt like July to me.

Finally in early April it warmed up.  We'd get more snow just 2 years later in 1995-96, but the cold was overall not quite as strong and definitely not quite as persistent.  One warmup a couple weeks after the Blizzard of 1996 caused historic flooding on the Susquehanna River.

 

At KAVP there was a high of 60° in mid to late February .  The snow cover survived.  Snow cover was from solstice to equinox roughly and that was a record.  Had 16.6" I think right before the brutal arctic outbreak and that was that winter's biggest storm and the one that gave so much  ZR to Philly and other 95 corridor locales.  There was about , dunno, 6" or a bit more on the ground before the 16.6" and that left a record for snow depth until the week after the 96 blizzard.   A record low high was set of -2° followed by the still standing record low of -21°.  At one point a rumor coming from Penn State said a 50" storm was coming and snow piles were being moved to the river but of course that model output was  a fluke.  The winter's second largest snowfall came in early March of 11 point something inches.  A few nickel and dime events and then right after the equinox or so the snow was gone but on April 1 it was in the 70s and I could see the snow on the mountains from the valley floor.  A friend and I went up there and it was amazing to walk from the warm side of the road go into the conifer-dominated forest with deep snow under the canopy and it felt like walking into a fridge.  I've read speculations about there being a connection with that winter along with the March 1993 blizzard  being a result of the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo.  Maybe there should be a geology section here.

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