Winter delivered a wallop to the Capital Region 20 years ago this week.
It was the blizzard of 1993 — a nor’easter that dropped 26.6 inches of snow in the middle of March. The storm was a deadly event. Four people lost their lives.
Snow began to swirl around dawn on Saturday, March 13 and quickly covered bare grass and dry pavement. Winds showed up. So did tall drifts.
“It’s definitely the most powerful storm to strike the region in decades,” said meteorologist Anthony Cristaldi at the National Weather Service in Albany.
“This is like a hurricane with snow,” said Devlin Dean, a forecaster at the Atmospheric Science Research Center at the University at Albany, as he watched the snow fall.
Others were watching, too — and walking. While the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade in downtown Albany was canceled, Troy’s parade mixed traditional green with midwinter white. Marchers competed with the snow and wind for about 20 minutes, as 150 people watched.
Some people watched cancellations pile up. Airplane and train departures, basketball games, weddings and the Capital District Garden and Flower Show were postponed. During a two-hour stretch on Saturday night, meteorologists said, 8 inches of snow fell. By then, Gov. Mario Cuomo had declared a statewide state of emergency.
Snow plows were out all night. People with shovels were common sights on that Saturday and Sunday, as they cleared sidewalks and driveways and brushed mountains of snow from roofs and their cars. Forecasters had called the storm correctly, and people spent the days before the big weather shopping and stocking up.
Kids had the most fun, building snow forts and tunnels and climbing tall snowbanks to touch the tops of street signs.
The storm remains the second biggest storm, in terms of March snowfall, in Capital Region history. The top March storm was 46.7-inches over four days, and it started 125 years ago today — on March 11, 1888.