Historic snowfall in the Southeast threatens to shut down multiple cities for days

Image: mark wilson / Getty Images

Parts of the Southeastern United States woke up to a most unusual sight on Wednesday morning: Snow and ice.

The icy onslaught came from the incipient stages of a rapidly intensifying storm that threatens to set off a "meteorological bomb" as it creeps north through Wednesday night, but it's already making history in the South. Regions of the U.S. that aren't accustomed to seeing snowy weather are bracing for record-setting accumulation.

In Tallahassee, a Florida city that hasn't seen any snow in decades, a measurable (if small) amount was visible on Wednesday morning. The 0.1 inches of accumulation might seem like nothing to a northerner, but it was more than enough in Tallahassee to prompt a warning from local police.

The nearby Gulf Coast of Louisiana has also gotten a rare taste of snow and freezing rain, thanks to the unusual Arctic air mass in place ahead of the storm.?

The National Weather Service has winter storm warnings in place for much of the Southeastern U.S. on Wednesday, including parts of Florida, Louisiana, Georgia, the Carolinas, Alabama, Mississippi, and even the eastern edge of Texas. In some places, such as Savannah, Ga., snowfall amounts threaten to break records that have been in place for more than a century.

The worst of this storm is still to chartph.come as it moves north along the East Coast, bringing the winter storm to the typically-icier regions of the northeastern U.S. and Canada. But the storm's historic impact will be well-established by then.

The storm's unusually heavy impact on southern states is the product of a powerful and long-lasting Arctic blast that brought cold air much further south than is normal.?

We've already seen much heavier snowfall in the U.S. this winter, as recently as last weekend's lake-band effect-prompted inundation of Erie, Penn., but this storm's relatively light accumulation in the Southeast is no less history-making. As usual, social media users stepped up to mark the occasion.