As a new year began, snow stretched across the United States from California to New England. According to the National Weather Service, on January 4, 2013, 65.5% of the country was covered with snow – a dramatic rise from December, 2012’s 7.6% snow cover. The New England region was 98.2% under snow, with an average depth of 15.6 inches. The West Coast, including the California mountains, was 23.9% snow covered. But the snowiest regions were the Northern Rockies (98.5% covered in snow, with an average depth of 27 inches) and, just to the south, the Intermountain Region (99.7% snow cover, but only 9.3 inch average depth).
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite passed over the region on January 4, 2013 and acquired this set of striking images which highlight the wintery scene.
The top image is a false color image, created by using MODIS bands 7, 2 and 1. In this combination, vegetation appears bright green, clouds are bright white and snow appears electric blue. Where the sky is clear, the blue snow stands out in vivid contrast to the surrounding clouds, grass and tan land. A large cloud bank covers New England, as well as part of the Appalachian Mountains in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Virginia. At higher resolution, bits of bright blue can be seen under cloud cover in New England and the Appalachian, indicating a cover of snow lying beneath layers of cloud.
Rolling the cursor over the top image reveals a second image, which was created from MODIS bands 1, 4, and 3. Called a “true-color” image, the results of this band combination appear just as the human eye would view the scene– if eyes could achieve a sky-high view. Here the white clouds blend into white snow, making it impossible to separate one from the other.