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30 Years Later: Remembering the Blizzard of '93

On March 12, 1993, snow began to fall over East Tennessee. By the time it was over, it was considered one of the largest storms of the 20th century.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — On March 10, 1993, most of East Tennessee was basking in spring-like weather, with sunny skies and temperatures sitting comfortably in the 70s.

Two days later, that same region would be hit by what many called "The Storm of the Century", as Knoxville and the surrounding area saw its heaviest snowfall in recent memory.

The Blizzard of 1993 dumped a record-breaking 15 inches of snow in Knoxville. The Great Smoky Mountains saw even more snowfall, with Mount LeConte recording 5 feet of snow.

Watch: WBIR Vault: Heavy snow and wind arrives in Blizzard of '93 (Mar. 13, 1993)

Snow piled up on the roads and parking lots, with some piles lingering for weeks. Several Tennesseans opted to abandon their cars and walk to their destinations, either because their vehicles were stuck in the snow or because driving conditions were too dangerous.

Watch: WBIR Vault: Arrival of Blizzard of '93 paralyzes East Tennessee (Mar. 13, 1993)

During the storm, millions of people lost power as freezing temperatures strained the electrical grid and fallen trees knocked out power lines. KUB crews worked day and night to restore power. Even after the storm passed, some people went without power for a week. TVA also rolled out portable generators for people in emergency situations.

Watch: WBIR Vault: Frustrated KUB customers Blizzard of '93 (Mar. 15, 1993)

The blizzard especially impacted homes in the Great Smoky Mountains, leaving hundreds stranded inside their homes. Helicopter crews and volunteer pilots worked to airlift emergency food supplies to stuck families.

Watch: WBIR Vault: Helicopters drop food in mountains - Blizzard of '93 (Mar. 16, 1993)

Over the course of several days, helicopters were also called in to rescue more than 200 hikers in the Smokies stranded by the storm, including dozens of high school students and staff from Michigan.

Watch: WBIR Vault: Students rescued & reunited - Blizzard of '93 (Mar. 16, 1993)

With the roads shut down and the power out for many homes, East Tennesseans still found ways to occupy themselves. Some took up odd jobs shoveling their neighbor's driveways, while others took to the classic winter weather activities, like sledding and building snowmen.

Watch: WBIR Vault: Sunday sledding and snowmen Blizzard of '93 (Mar. 14, 1993)

Across the country, nearly 10 million people lost power and more than 270 died to the storm system.

In 2018 for the 25th anniversary of the Blizzard of '93, WBIR anchor emeritus Bill Williams sat down and remembered covering that once-in-a-lifetime storm.

Watch: Bill Williams reflects on Blizzard of '93

You can also check out the WBIR YouTube page and our playlist of Blizzard of '93 stories.

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