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25 years ago, Atlanta was socked in by the Blizzard of ‘93

Wind, bitter cold, serious snowfall -- we endured it all on March 13, 1993

Everything was fine, just fine, at my house on Saturday, March 13, 1993, as winter winds whipped the trees outside, blanketing my neighborhood with a thick coating of snow. Blizzard of ‘93? Whatever. I was warm and toasty, so ... big deal.

Then the power went out. And I got a first-hand lesson in just how bitter “bitter cold” can be.

Nobody who lived in Atlanta 25 years ago could possibly have forgotten The Blizzard of ‘93. We’ve had snowstorms before -- and since (Snowmageddon, anyone?) -- but The Blizzard smacked this town with all the subtlety of a cast-iron skillet to the noggin. 

My former AJC colleague, Mike Morris, sums it up thusly:

“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.

Although only 4 inches of snow was officially recorded at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, a foot or more of the white stuff fell across the northern suburbs, and winds whipping to 50 mph blew the snow into nearly waist-deep drifts.

The storm paralyzed metro Atlanta and north Georgia for days, the heavy snowfall closing interstates from Atlanta northward. Fifteen people were killed in Georgia.” 


The thing was, we knew it was coming. WSB Chief Meteorologist Glenn Burns, his TV team and 750 AM WSB Radio meteorologist Kirk Mellish had been duly warning the metro Atlanta and north Georgia areas that we were in for a serious snowstorm -- even though just that Wednesday, March 10, Atlanta hit a high of 75 degrees. 

I had plenty of time to think about that nice, warm Wednesday while fretting over how to make my slim stock of firewood last until Georgia Power restored the juice to my home and the five or six others on my street that were dark. Meanwhile, I could see that folks three doors down on the left had full power. It was a long night.

But I got a taste -- literally -- of pre-electricity days here in the South. I roasted potatoes in the fireplace ashes (they were delicious), piled on the quilts to keep warm and carefully got the old kerosene lamp going. It wasn’t what I was used to, but there was a coziness to it that I’ve never quite felt since. 

Late Sunday afternoon, once the lights and heat were restored, I let the fire die out and stowed the quilts back with the mothballs in the closet. Finally, I was able to enjoy what remained after the previous day’s bluster and bitterness: the sun shining on the snow blanketing my neighborhood, the quiet that only a southern snowfall brings, the knowledge that this had been something special, something bittersweet -- a memory worth filing away for the next time I took a warm, windy March day for granted.


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