Last week, artificial snow was falling on visitors to Walt Disney World’s Main Street, U.S.A., as Magic Kingdom celebrated Christmas by showering guests with “snow” made from soap. However, on Wednesday night, Magic Kingdom may actually see real snow fall on its streets for possibly the first time ever.
Snow has already fallen in Tallahassee, a Panhandle city of about 181,000 people, according to the Miami Herald, for the first time since 1989. Typical for snowfall in the deep south, it didn’t to fall for too long — about an hour or so between around 7:30 and 8:30 local time, according to the National Weather Service (NWS). And it hasn’t stuck once it’s reached the comparatively warm ground.
The tops of buildings, however, are another story. The NWS’ own building in Tallahassee had 0.1 inches of snow on its roof.
Despite the lack of accumulation, parts of some streets are slick and icy, and in a city without snowplows or ice-removal capabilities, traffic has come to a standstill. Police and public transportation officials closed streets and urged locals to stay at home. Those who didn’t heed the warnings have done so at their peril; multiple traffic accidents across the city have tied up traffic.
— Amy Sweezey (@amysweezey) January 3, 2018
Meanwhile, school kids in the region are finding that their winter break is being extended by a day, as schools across North Florida are closed due to the snow.
The last time measurable snowfall occurred in Tallahassee, George H.W. Bush was president. On December 22-23, 1989, a whole inch fell on the city.
— David Peeples (@dhpeeple1) January 3, 2018
Although snow is rare in the Sunshine State, when it does fall, it’s almost always in the northern portions of the state — Tallahassee, Pensacola, Jacksonville. A few hundred miles south — like, say, Orlando and points beyond — snow is almost unheard-of.
Not so Wednesday night. Precipitation is rolling through the area, and overnight temperatures Wednesday night through Thursday morning are expected to reach the low 30s. That’s almost cold enough for snow, although Orlando Sentinel meteorologist Jessie Smith said that snow is unlikely in the city. In fact, the City Beautiful hasn’t had a measurable snowfall since 1977.
Over at the Happiest Place on Earth (that is, nearby Walt Disney World), visitors are bundled up against freezing rain and icy winds, as they have been for over a week. Popular water attractions Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon, which normally stay open through the winter (the water is heated), have closed due to the extreme cold.
So dreary and cold in Walt Disney World at Epcot today. Felt like I’d stepped into a parallel DLP that had a World Showcase! pic.twitter.com/j0Ng0d8fsz
— Best Ride™ (@traderspam) December 30, 2017
Meanwhile, Orlando residents thought they’d hit the snow jackpot earlier this week, with several residents sharing photos of what they thought was snow on their windshields. Unfortunately, it was only mist, according to Smith.
Snow in Florida is so rare that the topic even has its own Wikipedia page. Either records were inconsistent or climate change has really done a number on Florida weather because the page notes 21 reported snow events in Florida in the 20th century (a hundred years), and 19 snow events so far in the 21st century (17 years).
Tallahassee is expected to “warm up” (if it can be called that) over the next few days, with high temperatures back into the upper 60s by Monday. Orlando, a few hundred miles to the south, can expect temps in the upper 70s by Monday.