Volume 3, Number 5, February, 2012


If you were living in Alabama in March 1993, what you remember about the great blizzard of that month probably depends greatly on two things: One, being old enough to remember 1993, and two, where you were in Alabama the week of March 8-14.

The cyclonic blizzard that blasted across the Eastern U.S. on March 11-14 is frequently referred to as the "Blizzard of the Century," in capital letters like that. The storm's effects were felt from Cuba in the south all the way up into Canada.

Alabama felt a real whiplash effect, because the days before the storm were warm: On Thursday, March 11, temperatures across the state were ... balmy. Birmingham almost hit 75°. The high in Gadsden was 80°. Tuscaloosa was about 76°, but the high in Mobile (where the storm was edging toward shore) was only 66°.

How many of us were putting away our winter coats and pulling out the short sleeves?

Then the bottom fell out.

In particular, March 14, 1993, shows up across Alabama's low temperature records for March, from Mobile (21°) to Scottsboro (8°), with especially cold stops in Talladega (6°) and Birmingham (2°). Other records from that day include Montgomery at 17°, Tuscaloosa and Anniston, both at 12°, and Greensboro and Clanton, both at 10°.

Among the Alabama cities we track on this report, none has broken its March record cold since 1993.

The contrast between the spring-like highs and the record lows only three days later is stark.

City        High on 3/11 Low on 3/14   3-day drop
Mobile   66° 26° 30°
Mont. (MAFB)   67°   22° 45°
Auburn/Opelika 65°    19° 46°
Muscle Shoals 68° 17° 51°
Dothan 77° 22° 55°
Huntsville  70° 12° 58°
Anniston 74° 12° 62°
Tuscaloosa  76° 12° 64°
Birmingham 75° 73°


There was snow, starting in many places on March 13. Various reports put the total snowfall in Jefferson County as high as 20 inches. Huntsville and Anniston each reported over seven inches of snow. Muscle Shoals saw more than five inches while Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery had more than three inches of snow.

Although the blizzard was disruptive in Alabama, it caused serious damage elsewhere. The official U.S. death toll was set at 244 (more than hurricanes Andrew and Hugo — combined) and damage estimates were in the billions of dollars.

Historically, the storm may be remembered as the first major winter storm successfully forecast by computer weather models. Some warnings went out as much as five days in advance, while general warnings were issued at least two days before the storm hit.

Are you old enough to remember March 14, 1993? Let's see.

In addition to a big blizzard, on that day Oksana Baiul won the women's world skating championship in Prague. After canceling a show on Saturday night, the Grateful Dead performed what has generally been called a lackluster concert on March 14 in Richfield, OH, which is between Cleveland and Akron. All across the Midwest, the blizzard stranded dead heads trying to get to the concert.

Alabama Tornado Fatalities
North Alabama Seasonal Snowfall
by the numbers


January, 2012
December, 2011
November, 2011
October, 2011
September, 2011
August, 2011
July, 2011
June, 2011
May, 2011
April, 2011 (pdf)
May, 2011
April, 2011 (pdf)
March, 2011 (pdf)
February, 2011 (pdf)
January, 2011 (pdf)
December, 2010 (pdf)
November, 2010 (pdf)
October, 2010 (pdf)
Alabama Monthly Climate Summaries
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New Daily Local Climate Records
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John R. Christy
Alabama State Climatologist
University of Alabama in Huntsville
website - AOSC
Bob Clymer
Assistant State Climatologist
Phillip Gentry
UAHuntsville Communications


* all maps are clickable so you can view larger, more detailed images.

- John Christy

Lawn - and - Garden Moisture Index

The lawn-and-garden moisture index measures the capacity of current soil moisture to sustain healthy lawns and gardens. The index is computed by estimating how much precipitation in the past three weeks contributes to current soil moisture. That rainfall is compared to a “standard” amount of rainfall considered to be adequate for that time of year to sustain healthy lawns and gardens. The difference is the lawn-and-garden moisture index.

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