KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — It has been 30 years since the Blizzard of 1993 swept across the region, leaving 14-18 inches of snow across much of East Tennessee.
On the weekend of March 12-13, 1993, the storm rolled through, dumping snow across the middle and eastern regions of the state. A mass of Arctic air brought the chilly temperatures that made the snow possible, with the low on Sunday reaching 16 degrees, and 11 degrees on Monday.
While Knoxville received 14 inches of snow, areas of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park reported 60 inches of snow with 10-15 foot deep drifts, all within 24 hours. The storm was forecasted, but the storm still left tens of thousands of East Tennesseans without power.
Some videos shown during broadcasts in 1993 show people sledding and having fun in the snow before it became too deep. Others captured people’s frustration after they had been trapped at home without power for days.
Reports state that over 100 people were stranded in the national park. A group of students from Michigan were hiking in the national park when the storm hit and some of those were rescued from the park. The 10 students from Michigan were snowbound for four days before they were rescued, according to archived video. The national guardsman in a helicopter spotted the hikers.
Another report stated a rescue crew carrying an 80-year-old woman, who was believed to be having a heart attack, into the helicopter.
A report from 1993 said that 10 hikers were flown out in two groups from an area near the Tennessee–North Carolina border. According to a report from 1993, all 10 were okay, although one may have had frostbite.
Aerial video of the blizzard shows areas of the Smokies where the snow has buried everything except for the trees at the peaks of mountains. The video also shows homes and trees covered with a thick blanket of snow.
Other archived videos showed people and cars attempting to navigate the snow before it became too deep.
In the WATE archives, we found an hour-long special newscast. Meteorologist Matt Hinkin revealed that there were 16 inches of snow on the ground in Chattanooga, which broke the record for the most snow that had fallen in the area in 24 hours. Previously, the record had been 12 inches, and that record was set on Dec. 4, 1886.
See the largest snowfalls recorded in Tennessee history.
Callers told WATE how much snow was in their area. One man said he was about 6’3″ and the snow was up to his knees when he stepped outside. Some callers estimated there were between 12-18 inches of snow, with up to two-foot drifts.