The South faces the brunt of another major East Coast snowstorm. If the Florida Panhandle gets an inch or two as expected, then there will be snow in all 50 states.
Three hundred plow trucks are lined up to combat an afternoon rush-hour snowstorm in Georgia, including traffic-congested Atlanta. In Mobile, Ala., kids are poised for a rare snowball fight. And fat flakes are already falling in Blountstown, Fla.
This has been one of the most bizarre winters of the new century, with storm after storm slamming the East Coast in particular. And now, a storm that dropped a foot of snow Thursday on Dallas – Dallas! – could help bring about the presence of snow in all 50 states.
That’s if the storm delivers a few inches, as expected, in parts of north Florida. If that indeed happens, meteorologists at AccuWeather and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) say they expect some coverage in all 50 states.
(In case you’re wondering, some of the tallest peaks in Hawaii have snow sprinkled on them.)
“By the time the storm ends, we may be looking at a truly historic snow cover map to open up the weekend,” AccuWeather.com’s Joe Lundberg writes.
This winter’s white legacy has inspired at least one meteorological project.
“On Friday afternoon, I’m going to begin asking for photos of the snow,” Patrick Marsh, a student employee at NOAA’s National Severe Storm Laboratory in Norman, Okla., told Oklahoma’s News 9 channel. “Hopefully I’ll get photos from all 50 states, and if I do, I’ll put them into a Google Earth map and make a snow snapshot of America.”
So what’s going on?
Climate-change debate has been hot and heavy as official Washington shut down for four straight days. The wintry blasts, Time magazine explained, could actually be part of a global-warming trend. (We’ll let them explain that here.)
Less controversial were the communal dig-outs taking place across Washington. Shovelers dubbed the comity “snowcialism.”
More seriously, the storms are likely to nip American taxpayers as city and states burn through their snow-clearing budgets.
“[S]end dough for snow,” Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D) of Maryland wrote in a plea to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
The culprit, it appears, is a strong Pacific El Niño pattern that has stirred up a boatload of moisture rolling across Mexico, into the Gulf, and up through the South. All that is now colliding on a regular basis with unusually deep dips of Arctic air.
At the same time, much of the Midwest is experiencing a comparatively mild snow season – even as Vancouver, British Columbia, is having to truck in snow for some of its Olympic events.
Other notable events in this topsy-turvy season: The South saw one of the first big storms, frozen iguanas fell out of trees in Florida, and snowfall records were broken in a dozen cities including Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Washington.
And winter is barely halfway over. (Punxsutawney Phil, after all, said we have at least six more weeks of winter to go.)
“The snow blitz … is truly a rare event that has no parallel in the historic record,” wrote Weather Underground’s Jeff Masters Friday morning.