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In many parts of US, it's a winterless wonderland

Skiers, snowmobilers, primary candidates look around and wonder where the winter wonderland is By The Associated Press

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) ' The weather pattern that left many northern states with a brown Christmas is sticking around in the new year. And that's bad news for winter sports enthusiasts.

Officials say that on Thursday only 19 percent of the nation was covered in snow. That's less than half the average snow cover over the past five years on the same date.

That unseasonable weather means frozen ponds and outdoor ice-skating rinks are turning slushy in Minnesota. In Maine, popular snowmobile trails are lacking the key ingredient. And in Reno, Nev., there wasn't a scintilla of snow in December. It'll be around 50 degrees this weekend.

In Maine, Terry Hill says her rental cabins near Baxter State Park are empty because there's no snow for snowmobilers. She says it's "nerve-racking" waiting for the snow.

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