The American South didn't know what hit it in February 1899. Temperature levels reached record lows from Florida to Georgia and up into the Midwest. The area around Washington, D.C., experienced 51 hours straight of snowfall. Reports from Cuba then a territory recently wrested from Spain by U.S. troops told of unprecedented frost. The port of New Orleans was totally iced over; on Feb. 14, revelers participating in the annual bacchanal that is Mardi Gras had to wait for the parade routes to be shoveled free of snow.