There was snow on the ground in 49 states yesterday, with Hawaii the lone holdout.
It was the United States of Snow, thanks to an unusual combination of weather patterns that dusted the country, including the skyscrapers of Dallas, the peach trees of Atlanta and the Florida Panhandle.
More than two-thirds of the nation had snow on the ground when the day dawned, and then it snowed ever so slightly in Florida to make it 49 states out of 50.
At the same time, those weird-weather forces are turning Canada's Winter Olympics into the bring-your-own-snow games.
"I'm calling it the upside-down winter," said David Robinson, head of the Global Snow Lab at Rutgers University in New Jersey.
Snow paralyzed and fascinated the Deep South yesterday. Snowball fights broke out at the University of Southern Mississippi, snow delayed flights at Atlanta's airport, and Louisiana hardware stores ran out of snow supplies. But Portland, Maine, where snow is usually a given, had to cancel its winter festival for lack of it.
Weather geeks turned their eyes to Hawaii, where there is actually a ski club. Observers were watching the islands' mountain peaks, but nary a flake was found.
Hawaii's 13,800-foot Mauna Kea volcano, which often gets snow much of the year at its higher elevations, is the most likely place in the 50th state to have snow, but there "is nothing right now," said research meteorologist Tiziana Cherubini at the Mauna Kea Weather Center.
The idea of 50 states with snow is so strange that the federal office that collects weather statistics doesn't keep track of that number. The office can't even say whether 49 out of 50 has ever taken place before.
As of yesterday morning, 67.1 percent of the United States had snow on the ground, with the average depth 8 inches. Normally, about 40 percent or 50 percent of the country has snow cover this time of year, Robinson said.
This is after a month with the most snow cover for any December in North America in the 43 years that records have been kept. And then came January 2010, which ranked No. 8 among all months for North American snow cover, with more than 7.03 million square miles.
The all-time record is February 1978, with 7.31 million square miles. There is a chance this month could break that. It's also possible that this could be the week with the most snow cover on record, Robinson said.
Patrick Marsh, who is working on his doctorate in meteorology at the University of Oklahoma, has been trying to collect photos of snow on the ground in all 49 or 50 states. After his effort was publicized, he was flooded with photos and videos.
"It just shows that deep down inside all of us is a weather weenie, a weather fanatic," Marsh said.
Source: Associated Press