Nineteen years ago our corner of the U.S. was hit by a double whammy! The first one was a fierce squall line that raced across the entire Gulf of Mexico in only 12 hours with high winds and thunderstorms that caused more than a dozen tornadoes over Florida, six of them in northeast Florida, late Friday night and morning of March 13-14. It was attached to an intense low pressure system with a strong cold front that produced an extremely high storm surge in the Big Bend area of the northeast Gulf of Mexico. As high winds lifted Gulf waters as high as 12 feet, a family of 6 from Columbia county lost their lives in a beach cottage, and over 500 homes were destroyed on the coast.

The second whammy came from the cyclone’s strong cold front and blustery winds on the morning of Saturday the 14th. Wind gusts reached 75 mph in downtown Jacksonville, and 86 mph at the St. Johns Power Park on Heckshire Drive. With tree limbs snapping and temperatures plunging into the 30s, Jacksonville’s River Run was cancelled and rescheduled for the next day. While our area received only snow flurries late Saturday, Birmingham, AL and Chattanooga, TN totalled 23 to 25 inches of snow, the same as Pittsburgh, PA by Sunday as the storm center moved into eastern Canada on Monday. At one time all of the airports from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Atlanta, GA were closed by this giant storm.



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