It may not be much – just 0.1 inches (0.25 centimeters) – but it’s the first measurable snowfall Tallahassee, Florida, has seen in 28 years.
The coating of white stuff over some northern parts of the Sunshine State, as well as southern Georgia, came courtesy of a storm system that is expected to rapidly strengthen as it moves up the East Coast, bringing strong winds and potentially heavy snowfall. Because of this “bomb cyclone,” as it is known, forecasters have issued winter storm warnings from northern Florida to New England, a rare occurrence.
Florida is typically more synonymous with the snowbirds who flee frigid northern winters for the state’s balmy beaches. But Florida, especially its northern reaches, can certainly see temperatures drop when cold air invades from the north, as it has over the last few days. [Earth in the Balance: 7 Crucial Tipping Points]
Typically, though, such cold air means conditions are too dry for any snow to fall.
And when there is snow, it usually hasn’t been cold enough for long enough for roads and other surfaces to be sufficiently chilly for flakes to stick.
“It has to be cold enough to accumulate,” Mark Wool, the warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service (NWS) in Tallahassee, told Live Science. “That’s why it’s so rare.”
But with this low-pressure system developing off the Atlantic coast of Florida, moisture was pulled far enough westward to provide the fuel for snow and the area — like the rest of the eastern half of the country — has “had an unusually long stretch of cold weather,” he said. So the snow “started sticking right away.”