Forget red and blue — color America white. It was the United States of Snow, thanks to an unusual combination of weather patterns that dusted the U.S., including the skyscrapers of Dallas, the peach trees of Atlanta and the Florida Panhandle, where hurricanes are more common than snowflakes. More than two-thirds of the nation’s land mass had snow on the ground when the day dawned. "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 on Friday. Snowball fights broke out at Southern Mississippi University, snow delayed flights at the busy Atlanta airport, and Louisiana hardware stores ran out of snow supplies. Andalusia, Ala., shut down its streets because of snow. And yet, Portland, Maine, where snow is usually a given, had to cancel its winter festival for lack of the stuff. It snowed for only 10 minutes in Century, Fla., just north of Pensacola, barely enough to scrape a few snowballs from the hood of a truck.Comments
Weather recordsThis is after a month that saw 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 of white. The all-time record is February 1978, with 7.31 million square miles. There is a chance this February could break that. There is also a chance that this could go down as the week with the most snow cover on record, Robinson said. "A snowy winter doesn’t disprove — or prove — global warming,” said Dan Peterson, lead winter weather forecaster at the National Weather Service prediction center in Camp Springs, Md. This is weather, which is variable, not long-term climate, and there is a huge difference. "This has nothing to do with long-term trends,” Petersen said. "This is just a several-week period.”
Snow envySnowless New England states that rely on it for their winter activities are green with envy watching the Mid-Atlantic get blanketed with back-to-back blizzards. So little snow fell in Maine’s largest city that Portland canceled its winter festival. In Vermont, no snow meant no sculpting contest. And in New Hampshire, the lack of snow nixed a dog sled race. Detroit got 6 inches Wednesday but overall is slightly behind on snowfall. Art DeGaetano of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Regional Climate Center at Cornell University says El Nino conditions in the Pacific Ocean have helped create the persistent, southerly storm track this winter, causing storms to miss northern New England and upstate New York. Boston readied itself this week for a forecast foot of snow. Schools closed and businesses let workers go home early. But the storm never materialized. Grand total: 1 inch, and it melted by the following morning. In Portland, this weekend was supposed to be full of traditional winter frolicking: snowball fights, snowman building, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, sledding, snow sculpting and snow painting. But without any significant snowfall in Maine for the past three weeks, the city lacks the one key ingredient needed for all those activities, and had to cancel its Winter Rush festival. Adding insult to injury was a January rainstorm that washed away much of the snow that had piled up, leaving bare ground at a time when it’s supposed to be covered in white. "We’re definitely having snow envy,” said Sally DeLuca, Portland’s recreation director, who canceled all Winter Rush activities except for a road race and a polar plunge.