Today marks the 20 year anniversary of the snowstorm that came to be known as the Blizzard of 1993 in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, and the Storm of the Century in New England. I usually don't write about historical storm anniversaries, but this one in particular is very special for me, because you could say that this storm launched my career as a meteorologist!
I was living in Eastern Pennsylvania in March of 1993. I was just a few days away from officially becoming a teenager, and I was in seventh grade. Like most kids my age, I was awkward, with braces on my teeth and an awful wardrobe consisting mostly of brightly-colored rayon fabric. (It WAS 1993, after all.) And, like most kids my age, I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. I had plenty of ideas, which my parents always supported- one month I wanted to be a paleontologist; the next month, a doctor; after that, a fashion designer. I was all over the map, but I had always been captivated by science. I always did well in my math and science classes. I even founded a Science Club at my school when I was in fourth grade, and in first grade, I taught my classmates about space and the solar system with my teacher's permission. So, you would think that I would have known that a science field was the right fit for me! However, it didn't all come together until the elements for this megastorm began to come together in the Atlantic Ocean.
The snow started falling during the day on March 13th, and it continued through the night into the morning on the 14th. When all was said and done, the snow in my backyard was up to my knees, and in some spots, even higher than that. I really wanted to know how much snow we had gotten, so I ventured outside with a yardstick in my hand. Instead of just measuring in one clear spot, I took three measurements on our quarter-acre lot, then computed the average of those three when I went back inside. No one told me I should do it this way; it just seemed like the right thing to do!
The Blizzard of '93 caused a pretty heavy snowfall in my area, with about a foot and a half in my backyard. But Eastern Pennsylvania had certainly seen worse, and we would actually experience a much heavier snowfall less than 3 years later with the Blizzard of 1996, in which we got more than 2 feet of snow. That storm shut my school district down for an entire week, delaying final exams and graduation ceremonies. However, no storm stands out in my memory more than that one in 1993 as the storm that set me on my current path. It was the first time I really looked at weather from a scientific perspective-- something I do on a daily basis today.