This week, back in 1993, I was hiking through Big Bend National Park in Texas with Outward Bound. I had no internet, no phone, no computer, and certainly no weather maps. However, on the last night of the trip it became very windy and very cold after being close to 90 earlier in the day.
I told our guide that something very big was going on in the weather; little did I know how big it would be. I’ll be updating my weather forecast for this week on Twitter at @growingwisdom please follow me there. Feel free to comment or ask questions too.
We broke camp the next morning and later that afternoon I would call my colleagues at the Fox affiliate in Hartford, the station where I was working at the time. The call went directly to a hold message which had a recorded forecast playing. When I heard 18 to 36 inches of snow possible, I knew something historical was happening with the weather. Upon returning to our van I told my other travelers that anyone who was planning on flying back east better prepare for a longer than intended stay. I was stuck in El Paso, Texas for the next three days while the east slowly returned to normal.
March 12-15th marks the 20 year anniversary of the “Storm of the Century”, the “’93 Superstorm”, or the “Blizzard of 1993”. What made that storm so significant was the far reach of its effects.
Parts of Cuba had winds in excess of 100 miles per hour during the storm. Snowshoe, West Virginia had over 4 feet of snow, and that heavy snow reached into New England. Amounts here in Massachusetts were as high as 20 inches in Worcester and just over a foot in Boston, where the snow changed to rain.
The number of lightning strikes from the storm, a sign of its intensity, reached 60,000 plus during the three days the storm crossed the eastern half of the United States. There were many casualties from that storm too. All in all, from Cuba to New England 310 people died as a result of the storm. Winds on top of Mount Washington reached 144 miles per hour, which is equivalent to a category 4 hurricane.
20 years ago is a blip in meteorological history, but in terms of technology it is another dimension all together. There wasn’t any widespread internet use yet, cell phones were the size of bricks and only a few elite had them. Weather models had been around for about 20 years, but were most reliable for a short-term forecast. The Superstorm was one of the first major storms to be forecast accurately nearly 5 days in advance. Warnings went out to the public early enough that cities and towns had a chance to prepare for the storm.
Gardening this week
A very common problem with house plants is aphids. These sucking insects leave a residue on the leaves that can then cause a secondary infection on your plants. If you notice a black shoot-like coating on your houseplants, you probably have black sooty mold. This problem while not generally fatal to a plant can be an indication of an insect infestation. Check out this weeks video on black sooty mold and see if your plants have this issue.
I’ll be updating my weather forecast for this week on Twitter at @growingwisdom please follow me there. Feel free to comment or ask questions too.