How Does a Mid-Latitude Low Develop into a Storm System?
ES2003  Storm of the Century Hits the Eastern United States

From March 12 through March 15, 1993, a storm so powerful that it came to be known as the "Storm of the Century" brought large amounts of snow, high winds, and low temperatures to the eastern United States.

During the height of the storm, snow fell at a rate of two to three inches per hour. Every major airport on the east coast was closed at one point or another. Over three million customers were without electrical power due to fallen trees and high winds. The National Weather Service estimated that the snowfall during this four day period was equal to 40 days of flow on the lower Mississippi River.

NOAA

NOAA

STORM HIGHLIGHTS

Wind Gusts
144 MPH on Mount
Washington, NH
89 MPH on Fire Island, NY
81 MPH at La Guardia Airport, NY

Snowfall Totals
56 inches on Mount LeConte, TN
43 inches in Syracuse, NY
19 inches in Asheville, NC

Low Temperatures
-12 degrees F in Burlington, VT
2 degrees in Asheville, NC

Record Low Air Pressures
962.8 millibars in Philadelphia, PA
965.5 millibars in Boston, MA

Mid-latitude cyclones are low-pressure storm systems that form along the polar front—the boundary between cold polar air and warmer air from the middle latitudes. These storm systems are common during the winter months, but this particular storm was unusually intense. By the time it was over, the storm had caused between 3 and 5 billion dollars of property damage and 270 deaths. At the time, it was the fourth most costly storm of any kind in U.S. history and by far the most costly mid-latitude cyclone.


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