AUGUSTA — Forecasters say it was an eerily unforeseen storm that remains unrivaled in severity — even after two decades.
Wednesday marks the 20-year anniversary of the bizarre “Blizzard of ’93” that glazed much of Georgia to a standstill with wind-whipped snow and sub-zero chill factors.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of motorists were stranded on snow-packed Interstate 75 through northwest Georgia, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. National Guardsmen in four-wheel drive vehicles made their way up the interstate, handing out bags of fruit to stranded motorists.
It was just a week before the official start of spring, with azaleas and dogwoods already budding in Augusta, The Augusta Chronicle reported.
Ahead of the storm, forecasters at the National Weather Service sounded ominous warnings of blizzard conditions in the state as a hurricane-like storm churned out of Florida into Georgia.
And then came the bizarre collision of Arctic cold and Gulf moisture that covered the northern part of the state with blankets of snow and slammed its southern portions with high wind and rains.
Airports were closed and governors declared emergencies as 1.5 million southerners were without power and thousands of travelers were stranded at airports and iced-over highways.
The “Storm of the Century,” as it became known, hit metro Atlanta on Saturday, March 13, 1993. The snow began falling early that morning, and by the time it had tapered off, nearly 3 feet had fallen across parts of extreme north Georgia, with Union County reporting 35 inches.
Fifteen people were killed in Georgia, while the death toll across the U.S., Canada and in Cuba hit 310.