From The Vault: Surprise snowstorm turns Cincinnati from orange to white on Halloween weekend 1993

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CINCINNATI – The Great Pumpkin met Frosty the Snowman for the first time in the Tri-State 24 years ago.

Winter and autumn collided on the weekend of Oct. 30-31, 1993, when a surprise snowstorm dumped 6.2 inches and marked the first “White Halloween” on record in the area.

Most of the snow – an October single-day record  of 5.9 inches -  fell on Saturday, Halloween Eve. There were few traffic problems because the snow melted on the seasonably warm roadways, and power outages were scarce. With most people off from work and school, it turned into a day for frolicking in the white stuff. When kids and adults weren't making pumpkin-headed snowmen, they were sledding and throwing snowballs like it was February.

 

At times, the snowfall nearly turned Saturday sports events – including the University of Cincinnati’s homecoming game, the Covington Catholic-Scott football game and kids soccer games around the Tri-State – into whiteouts. Players did a lot of slippin' and sliddin' on the slick fields.

 

“We’re having all kinds of fun,” one youth soccer coach told WCPO. “All you got to do is stay on your feet somehow.”

At the UC-Memphis State game, an overzealous groundskeeper thought he would help UC kick a last-minute, game-winning field goal by using a snow shovel to clear a spot to place the ball. That got UC a 5-yard penalty – the rules said teams weren’t allowed to remove snow “by artificial means” to help the kicker.

 

So the kicker, Tom Dallen, stepped back 5 yards, wiped off some snow with his shoe, and made the field goal to beat Memphis State, 23-20.

At the CovCath-Scott football game in Northern Kentucky, the cold wind blew through the open field like a blizzard and chilled fans to the bone.

 

How did we get 6.2 inches of snow in October?

 An unusually early, strong storm from the Gulf of Mexico met an area of Canadian arctic pressure, according to National Weather Service Meteorologist Tom Johnstone.

SEE Data on earliest snowfalls in Cincinnati.

Despite the Boy Scouts' motto,  "Be Prepared," nothing could have prepared 4,000 scouts at a “camporee” in Loveland for camping outdoors in tents during the snowstorm. The scouts had come from all over the Midwest to the Dan Beard Scout Reservation for competitions, demonstrations and a Civil War reenactment.

But the scouts seemed to take it in stride, and the activities – even tugs-of-war in the snow - went on as scheduled.

 

“You never know what’s going to happen on a campout a lot of times,” a scout said.  “You have it all nice and planned out what you think will happen and you wake up the next morning and something totally different happened.”

When trick-or-treat time came Sunday evening, temperatures were at or below freezing, and many kids (or their parents) decided to stay home. But not Kathy Piller of Delhi.

“I’ll stay out as long as the kids want to stay out,” Piller told The Enquirer as she walked door-to-door with 6-year-old Kelly and 4-year-old Jack. “They both have two jackets under their costumes.”

National Weather Service Meteorologist Erik Pytlak said it was a Halloween for the ages.

“This will be remembered by kids for the next 80 years, but of course, no one will believe them,” he said.

SEE other video and stories about Tri-State history in our "From The Vault" series.

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