Snow Place Like Home, Unless You Live in Florida

Recently, on January 11th, 2011, many media outlets reported that there was snow on the ground in 49 of the 50 states in the United States of America. The lone hold out of course, turned out to be Florida. It’s as if snow was some new technology like email and text messaging that our grandparents in Florida never picked up. And for anyone at home thinking that Hawaii just can’t possibly be covered in the white stuff, well, you’re kind of right. It isn’t covered, but it has accumulated on the tops of two volcanic peaks responsible for the islands’ formation in the first place.

In reality, the fact of the matter is this kind of phenomenon is so rare in occurrence that it’s not even tracked. It is one of those stories that is only news because it is an anomaly. There is one report that this happened once last year in April, with Florida again being the remaining hold out. Another report places it happening in 1979, though with Florida and South Carolina trading roles. The whole fact of this report got me to remembering the family I have in Florida.

My sister’s family is from outside of Orlando. One Christmas, they traveled north to Pennsylvania to spend time with the extended family. It was this family holiday that my nephews both told me they had never seen snow before this visit, something that blew my mind. It’s really a fact that shouldn’t be a secret. As this piece has pointed out, Florida NEVER get’s snow! Maybe I had expected them to have traveled more in the winter. Maybe they would go somewhere to ski for a holiday. Then again, I live with snow all the time and haven’t picked up the necessary experience to stay upright on skis. Why would someone who has never even rolled a snow man or risked their life in a flimsy dollar store sled embark on an expensive trip that might result in a week of just drinking cocoa and watching the fire place with your arm or leg in a cast.

In earnest, we love trivial pieces of knowledge like the fact that it almost never snows in Florida, or that a small island state of Hawaii can have such disparities in elevation (and broad stretches in the midwest can have almost zero elevation variance relative to other states). I’d like to thank the two super storm cells that helped me realize just how random nature can sometimes be.

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