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.
This 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.