20 years later, East Tennesseans recall Blizzard of '93

20 years later, East Tennesseans recall Blizzard of '93

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Between 15 and 60 inches of snow blanketed the East Tennessee region in 24 hours. Between 15 and 60 inches of snow blanketed the East Tennessee region in 24 hours.
"I remember it well, lot of snow, really cold," remembers Chief Doug McClanahan, of the Blount County Fire Department. "I remember it well, lot of snow, really cold," remembers Chief Doug McClanahan, of the Blount County Fire Department.
First responders, utility workers and even the meteorologists worked nonstop. First responders, utility workers and even the meteorologists worked nonstop.
"I started work on a Friday afternoon and didn't get home till Tuesday," remembers 6 News Chief Meteorologist Matt Hinkin. "I started work on a Friday afternoon and didn't get home till Tuesday," remembers 6 News Chief Meteorologist Matt Hinkin.
"When it hit I was at home, got called in, packed a bag and come to stay for 9 days," said Brian Beller, with Knoxville Utility Board. "When it hit I was at home, got called in, packed a bag and come to stay for 9 days," said Brian Beller, with Knoxville Utility Board.

By ALEXIS ZOTOS
6 News Reporter

MARYVILLE (WATE) - It was hailed the storm of the century. In 1993 East Tennessee was paralyzed by a massive blizzard.

Twenty years later, the people of East Tennessee still remember when the snow started falling.

"I remember it well, lot of snow, really cold," remembers Chief Doug McClanahan, of the Blount County Fire Department.

In 1993, McClanahan was a captain and was already at work when the storm hit.

"All of a sudden it started snowing really bad, a truck that went out there in the heavy snow, trees started falling around him, he was stuck there all night," Chief McClanahan said.  "We had to get chain saws to get the truck out, of course they come back the next morning, cold and ready to go home course that wasn't going to happen for a few days."

For days, first responders, utility workers and even the meteorologists worked nonstop.

"I started work on a Friday afternoon and didn't get home till Tuesday," remembers 6 News Chief Meteorologist Matt Hinkin.

Between 15 and 60 inches of snow blanketed the East Tennessee region in 24 hours.

"It was a number of factors, low pressure from the Gulf of Mexico came up the spine of the Smoky Mountains and strengthened from the Atlantic waters, and the dynamics of the atmosphere were just perfect. And even thought you looked at it on a forecast weather sheet, you kind of went you've got to be kidding me this can't really happen? But it did," Hinkin recalls.

School was canceled, McGhee Tyson was closed for 24 hours and thousands were stuck inside their homes.

"The ones that had telephones I think every one of them in Blount County called us at least once," Chief McClanahan said.

For many, power was out for more than a week.

"When it hit I was at home, got called in, packed a bag and come to stay for 9 days," said Brian Beller, with Knoxville Utility Board.

Beller was a 23-year-old apprentice back then. KUB crews worked 16-18 hour days to fix the thousands of downed power lines.

"When you pulled up on jobs there'd be lines down as far as you could see," said Beller.

If the storm hit today, responders believe they would be more prepared to handle a blizzard like the one 20 years ago.

"I think we could make better progress now, better communication is what helped a lot," Beller said.

"We're always prepared," Chief McClanahan said. "We try to look at every day as if what could happen, storm, flood, tornado and try to stay prepared."

Many East Tennessee residents remember exactly where they were when the storm hit.

"I was at home in Knoxville," remembers Charlotte Lambert. "It was very cold, very deep and power was off for a couple of days."

"I got up one morning, and it was about 28 inches on the ground and it broke my carport down, and we couldn't get out and go nowhere for a week," said Lee Fuller of Maryville.

"We were without power for ever it felt like," recalled Daniel Ogle. "It was 24 inches from the bottom of our porch."

"It's one of those stories you had to be there to understand," said Chief McClanahan. "But if you were there, you remember it."

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