Wednesday marks 25 years since 1994 winter storm paralyzed city

25 years later: A look back at the 1994 snowstorm

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - It’s a winter storm that’s marked in the memories of many that were in Louisville in 1994. Twenty-five-years ago one of the worst weather disasters hit WAVE Country.

“We knew a couple of days in advance that something was going to happen big over the weekend, but exactly what it was going to be, we weren’t sure yet,” said former WAVE 3 Meteorologist Tom Wills.

It started as freezing rain on the evening of January 16th, and quickly transitioned to heavy snow that night.

The winter storm dumped so much snow on the city, many roads and interstates had to be shut down.
The winter storm dumped so much snow on the city, many roads and interstates had to be shut down.

By the next morning, 15.9" inches of snow fell, crippling the city and much of state.

“Going down the hill into Spaghetti Junction, I look up and it was all light," Wills said. "There were trucks, semis everywhere. I mean the whole interchange was closed.”

For as far as you can see, the city, the state at a standstill.

“It took hours sometimes to get one truck and we’re multiplying that by 15 to 20 intersections and some on I-65 as well,” Wills explained.

Frigid temperatures didn't help the situation either.

The all-time record low, 22 below zero, was set in Louisville. Shelbyville set the state's all-time coldest temperature at 37 below.

Sixteen inches of snow dropped on Louisville in a few hours, in January 1994.
Sixteen inches of snow dropped on Louisville in a few hours, in January 1994.

"Economically it was a disaster. UPS couldn't come in and out for several days and you know what that means to them," said Wills.

According to UPS, the biggest impact was that employees couldn't get into work due to the snow.

Since then, technology and forecasts have improved giving people and road crews more time to prepare.

“It may be quicker getting the tractor-trailers out and getting the roads cleaned a day or two faster>” Wills said. "Overall, they talk about the term paralyzing weather, that was.”

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