20-year anniversary of Superstorm of 1993

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – Twenty years ago, the Superstorm of 1993, also known as the "Storm of the Century," began it's devastating venture across the Eastern United States. The storm brought record snowfall totals from Alabama through Maine, damaging winds along the East coast, coastal flooding, record-low barometric pressures across the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic, and immeasurable human impact, including more than 200 fatalities.

During the early morning hours of March 13th, 1993, damaging straight-line winds and 11 confirmed tornadoes were reported across the state of Florida, with significant thunderstorm wind damage occurring all the way south into Cuba. Strong winds on Florida's western coast created a storm surge up to 12 feet high in some places, causing extensive damage and taking seven lives.

As the system moved north, it encountered cold air across the southern states, creating snow and widespread blizzard conditions across Alabama, Georgia, the western Carolinas and Virginia. Many areas in these states recorded all-time records for snowfall, including Birmingham, Chattanooga, and Asheville.

By the early afternoon hours of March 13th, the central pressure of the massive system  was lower than had ever been observed with any winter storm or hurricane across the interior Southeastern United States. Areas like Columbia, Charlotte and Greensboro observed pressures lower than those recorded in Hurricane Hugo just over three years prior.

Across the Eastern Carolinas, the snowfall impact was minimal with only trace amounts having fallen, but the strong winds were the largest impact from the storm. Myrtle Beach recorded a high wind gust of 90 miles per hour and Florence recorded a gust of 58 miles per hour. Winds gusted to 70 miles per hour in Wilmington, 69 in Charleston, 63 in Sumter, and 43 in Columbia. These strong winds created very large waves and a destructive storm surge along the coastal areas, which destroyed at least 18 homes along the coast in Brunswick County, North Carolina.

Approximately 40 percent of the population of the United States was directly affected; every major airport along the US East Coast was closed at one point or another during the storm. It is estimated that the volume of snow dropped by the Superstorm was just under 13 cubic miles. In the end, 208 people lost their lives, from Florida to Maine. Of all the states that recorded fatalities, South Carolina had the least with only one person dying as a result of the storm.

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