Ocean City storm forecast off target THE BLIZZARD OF 1993

March 15, 1993|By William Thompson | William Thompson,Staff Writer

OCEAN CITY -- For anxious resort officials who waited inside the 15th Street fire station for the Blizzard of '93, the storm may go down in local history as the day they found themselves nearly knee-deep in food.

The storm that paralyzed much of Maryland all but snubbed Ocean City, where residents and tourists awoke yesterday to find the town windy and cold, but with barely half an inch of snow and -- most important -- unharmed.

Fears that gusts, coupled with an 11:50 p.m. high tide, might prove disastrous for the beach subsided Saturday night when weaker-than-expected winds came out of the southwest and actually helped prevent tidal flooding.

"It must have been the fried chicken effect," said Ocean City Manager Dennis Dare after officials agreed that the resort had been spared the calamity of other coastal towns north and south of Maryland.

They waited for snow. They got doughnuts and coffee.

They readied themselves for hurricane-force winds. They got chicken and cole slaw and baked beans.

They braced themselves for flooding. They got raw oysters and clams, steamed shrimp and fried fish.

And then when they thought night would bring more wind and water, they got a box filled with ham and turkey sandwiches.

Some of the food was prepared for the dozens of police, fire and rescue workers who showed up at the fire station, which also served as the town's emergency operations center. The rest was sent by friends in the restaurant business, who knew many of the storm-watchers were putting in an 18-hour day.

Mr. Dare's fried chicken theory aside, Ocean City apparently avoided a big hit from the storm when the mammoth low-pressure system went north along the Chesapeake Bay instead of on an expected Atlantic coastal track.

Winds once expected to howl out of the northeast instead huffed and puffed from the southwest and then the west, and seldom stronger than 45 mph. Mightier gusts battered Delaware beaches to the north and Virginia to the south.

"It seemed that the storm -- the snow and all -- was to the west of us," said Ocean City Mayor Roland "Fish" Powell. "Then it seemed to split, and the rain was to the east of us. We kind of lay there in the hollow."

"Obviously, someone here paid their taxes," joked Michael McKelvin, a spokesman for the Maryland Emergency Management Agency, who had been sent to Ocean City in case the storm had been as bad as was anticipated.

"This certainly was not the Superstorm of '93," he said. "At least not here."

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