A Quest To Photograph Snow In All 50 States

With a small amount of snow that fell in the Western panhandle of Florida on Friday, it is possible that there will be snow on the ground in all 50 states. Meteorology student Patrick Marsh is trying to collect pictures of snow from every state.

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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

It's been snowing in Florida today. In fact, I'm looking at a photograph sent in from Escambia County on the panhandle. It's a picture of the tiniest snowmen I think I've ever seen. They look like they have raisins for eyes, but it is still snow in Florida, and in Alabama and Louisiana and Texas. In fact, we feel quite confident in saying that today there has been snow on the ground in all 50 states.

And we're joined now by someone who's trying to document that fact with a snow-shot of America. Patrick Marsh, hes working on his Ph.D. at the University of Oklahoma's School of Meteorology. And, Patrick, when you're not doing that, you're trying to get photos of snow on the ground today in all 50 states. How's it going?

Mr.�PATRICK MARSH (School of Meteorology, University of Oklahoma): Pretty good so far. I think as of last count, we had somewhere in the neighborhood of about 27 out of 50 states, and the District of Columbia. So we're doing quite well for it being so early in the day.

BLOCK: Okay, a little more than halfway there. We're talking to you at about 1:30 Eastern Time. Who are the laggards? Who hasn't submitted a photo so far?

Mr.�MARSH: The states we're still waiting to hear from are West Coast states. It's still very early out there. I think California, Washington, Oregon, Colorado and Wyoming, surprisingly, we still haven't heard from. But most of our states that we've heard from are on the East Coast, which is expected after the last three blizzards that occurred there.

BLOCK: Enough photos to go around here. I guess Hawaii is still a little bit of a gray area. What's going on with Hawaii and snow?

Mr.�MARSH: Hawaii is a gray area. In fact, I've gotten a lot of emails from people saying that I must have failed geography because there's no way there could be snow in Hawaii. But on the tops of the mountains, they're between 13,000 and 14,000 feet high, and up at that altitude, it's very cold, and you can support snow.

And within the last six weeks or so, there's been a major blizzard on the Big Island of Hawaii, and the mountains were covered. And while there is no snow in the webcam views from the observatories on the tops of the mountains, we do have reason to believe that there might still be snow in patches in the sheltered, shaded areas that aren't quite as warm as the top, which receives direct sunlight.

BLOCK: But you'd want some photographic proof there.

Mr.�MARSH: Yes. If there's anybody Hawaii listening and is willing to go scavenge for us, I'd really appreciate it.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BLOCK: What are you going to do with these photos once you get them all?

Mr.�MARSH: My goal is to put them all into a Google Earth file so that people can then download it to their computers, use Google Earth and actually pan around the country to see what the snow looked like throughout the country today.

BLOCK: Has this ever happened before, do you know, all 50 states have snow on the ground on the same day?

Mr.�MARSH: I haven't been able to confirm or deny it at this point. I'm hearing anecdotal evidence from people who are emailing me saying that they heard reports back in the winter of '76-'77 that it might have occurred then. But I have not been able to confirm either way.

BLOCK: Well, it's a pretty cool thing.

Mr.�MARSH: Oh, very much so. This brings out the kid in all of us.

BLOCK: Patrick, thanks so much.

Mr.�MARSH: Thank you.

BLOCK: Patrick Marsh is a Ph.D. student at the University of Oklahoma's School of Meteorology in Norman. He's creating a snow-shot of America, collecting pictures of snow on the ground today in every single state.

And you can learn more about his project and how to send photos to Patrick at our blog, The Two-Way. That's at npr.org.

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BLOCK: Youre listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

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