So, you think it’s cold. At least the sun is shining.
Twenty years ago today Pulaski County and most of Eastern Kentucky were digging out from one of the worst snowstorms in a century.
We were warned. Forecasters were predicting up to a foot of snow from a storm system moving up from Texas and Louisiana.
The storm began, almost innocently, late Friday afternoon, March 12. Snow was falling, melting as it touched the ground. Grass got white, but streets and roads were wet and slushy.
An invisible sun sank low and set. It got dark. The wind howled. Snowflakes, big and wet, picked up in intensity.
Saturday, March 13 was probably the worst weather day in memory. Snow, driven straight by stinging winds, was blinding. Temperatures were in the teens. It was a whiteout. You couldn’t see 50 feet.
Pulaski County ended up with an estimated 13 inches of snow, piled in drifts 6 to 10 feet high. All state and federal highways in eastern and southeastern Kentucky were closed. Nothing was moving.
A Commonwealth Journal editor, reporter, composition person and pressroom operator made it to the newspaper building to publish Sunday newspapers, few of which would be delivered until the snow was cleared.
Headline on the front page of the Sunday, March 14, 1993 edition of the Commonwealth Journal proclaimed: “March Blizzard Stalls Pulaski.”
Three busloads of Memorial Elementary students were stranded in Redstone Arsenal space center in Alabama. Regional tournament basketball games at London were postponed. UK basketball fans were stranded in Lexington. This was mid-March, just days from spring.
The National Weather Service in Jackson described the storm as follows:
“From March 12 to March 14, 1993, one of the strongest storms of the past 100 years brought up to 30 inches of snow to eastern and southeastern Kentucky.
“Strong winds accompanied the snow, resulting in blizzard conditions and snowdrifts of 6 to 10 feet. Interstate 75 was closed from Lexington to the Tennessee border and Interstate 64 was closed from Lexington to the West Virginia border. Both roads were closed for 2 days.
“Between 3,000 and 4,000 motorists were stranded along the highways. Emergency shelters were set up in Ashland and London. Some of the heavier snowfall amounts were: Perry County, 30 inches; Pikeville, 24 inches, Ashland, 22 inches; and London, 22 inches. At the Jackson National Weather Service Office 19.8 inches fell in 24 hours, with a storm total of 20.3 inches. At Hazard the 24 hour snowfall record for the state of Kentucky was set, with 25 inches. The Blizzard of '93 will long be remembered across eastern Kentucky and the eastern United States.”