Weather Blog

Two "Storms of the Century" just 17 years apart?

Two "Storms of the Century" just 17 years apart?

I guess technically, it's possible. But as I was watching the news this morning getting ready to come to work, I was met by this graphic (above...station/network shall remain nameless, but good sleuths can probably figure it out).

It got me thinking: "We're just 10 (9?) years into the century and we're already spending our 'Storm of the Century' card? What will we call the raging snowstorm that hits the East Coast in 2023? Or 2036? Is anyone really keeping track of this stuff? Isn't this like calling the movie that came out on January 2nd, 'the year's best film!'?"

Anyway, for me and most weather forecasters, the "Storm of the Century" refers to the big East Coast snowstorm of 1993. Apparently in the 20th Century, we had saved up our "Storm of the Century" moniker until closer to the end, then figured we better use it or lest the century go with just 100 years of unnamed storms.

But the storm was worthy of the name, what with snow spread from Canada to northern Florida -- as much as 4" in the Florida panhandle and 6-8" across the south. It also brought deadly tornadoes and incredible winds to Florida and Cuba -- with straight-line gusts as high as 100 mph.

This storm seems like it'll be smaller in scale -- compare the satellite image here of the storm of 1993 with the forecast model for this storm:

The extra hype around this storm might be due to the fact that the storm's brunt is hitting a major metropolitan area -- Washington, D.C. Some forecasts expect 30" of snow in the nation's capital, which would be a record, eclipsing 28" in 1922.

(Note to world: I'm betting had Seattle and Portland been hit with a similar storm that dropped 31" from Vancouver to San Francisco, it would not merit "storm of the century" status in the national media. However, I reserve the right to title my blog entry that way should that storm ever hit :) )

I guess we'll see after this all shakes out next week, and maybe it will end up being a storm worthy of its lofty expectation. In the meantime, our grandkids will just have to come up with something else to call their mega-storms in the late 2000's :)