When it comes to skiing in Florida, a new snow storm is about to hit the Sunshine State
By KEVIN SLEEPYMANTIN, Florida (Reuters) – The U.S. National Park Service said on Thursday that it had temporarily closed its park on the East Coast, in the latest move by the federal government to curb snowfall in the nation’s most popular wintertime destination.
Park Service officials said the park would reopen on Friday, but there were no further details available on what it would entail.
It was the latest setback for Florida’s winter season, which is in its second consecutive year of heavy snowfall, with the state forecast to see more than 20 inches of rain by Saturday.
“It is clear that we need to act now to protect the safety and well-being of our visitors and the public,” said a National Park spokesman in a statement.
“The National Park System has taken significant actions to protect our visitors, staff and our communities during this severe winter storm.”
Florida, which has seen a spate of severe storms since a devastating February snowstorm devastated parts of the state, is also seeing a surge in deaths linked to snowfall.
More than 400 people have died from snow-related causes in the state since October, including 17 in the first 24 hours of February alone, according to the Florida Department of Health.
The agency said the closure was due to high winds that damaged power lines and damaged a road near Mount Dora in the Tallahassee area.
The park service’s decision comes as snow-plow crews work to clear roads around the resort, which serves more than 400,000 visitors annually.
The closures are a blow to tourism in the Sunshine state, where snowfalls have been unusually high in recent months and a storm system in the region is expected to continue this weekend.
A snow storm on the West Coast has already caused the closure of many ski resorts.
The National Weather Service in California forecasted that the state will see over 12 inches (35 cm) of snow on Thursday, the fourth consecutive day of record snowfall for the state.
Snowfall totals in California are now approaching double digits, and the National Weather Services office in Sacramento warned that a possible storm system will be headed for the West this weekend and could bring heavy snow.
The state’s weather service also warned that the storm system could bring up to 30 inches (100 cm) to the San Francisco Bay Area by Saturday, up from 15 inches (37 cm) on Thursday.
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols in Washington; Editing by David Gregorio)