'Storm of the Century' hit Central Florida 25 years ago

40 people died in 18-hour storm

By Samara Cokinos - Meteorologist

ORLANDO, Fla. - Twenty-five years ago, a cold front set the stage for what would end up being the "Storm of the Century" for Central Florida. 

The storm churned over the Gulf of Mexico, slowly moving into the Sunshine State overnight while many Floridians slept. 

The National Weather Service Melbourne office reported the "most intense weather occurred from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m." on March 12, 1993. 

It brought a bag of severe weather from torrential rain, damaging winds, tornadoes, hail, storm surge along the coast, and even snow in the panhandle. 

Reports showed one of the longest-lived tornadoes ravaged 31 miles of land from Lake to Volusia counties. 

The National Weather Service reported a total of 15 tornadoes, 11 of which occurred in just two hours. 

News 6 receptionist Karen Gehl recalls it was extra busy during that storm because there were more people in town. 

"It was during Bike Week and I remember seeing bikers trying to get off I-4. They were pulling under the overpasses and sitting there to seek shelter from the hail. They didn't know where else to go," Gehl said.

She, too, was trying to get out of the mess. 

The storm battered Central Florida for 18 hours resulting in over 40 deaths and causing and estimated $1.6 billion in damage making it one of the most costly storms of the 20th century. 

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