January, 2014 opened with extreme cold and snow across much of the United States. The month opened with a bitter Arctic system dropping temperatures in much of the United States and Canada to the coldest recorded since 1870, when the U.S. Weather Bureau began collecting data. Some of the record lows in the first week of 2014 included Green Bay, Wisconsin at −18 °F (−28 °C) and Babbitt, Minnesota at −37 °F (−38 °C). Even Dallas, Texas recorded a new low of 16 °F (−9 °C). The frigid cold was accompanied by stiff winds, making temperature calculations based on wind chill substantially lower.
According to the Weather Channel, January brought five major winter storms: Hercules, in which at least 16 deaths were attributed to the cold, Ion, Janus and Kronos - which was primarily a sleet and snow event for the south. The last storm of January was Leon, a “freak” southerly storm which brought snow, ice, freezing rain and cold weather to several southern and southeastern states. Leon brought complete gridlock to city of Atlanta, Georgia when commuters, stuck on frozen roads, abandoned their cars on major highways surrounding the city. The storm also shut down airports in the region, causing thousands of flight cancellations and delays. Although the month was difficult on the ground, the stormy weather was beautiful to view from high above.
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Terra satellite passed over the eastern United States on January 29, 2014 and captured this true-color image of the snowy states.
Substantial snow can be seen covering 22 states, from the tip of Minnesota and Iowa in the west to New York in the east, and south to South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama. Lakes Huron, Ontario and Erie are covered with ice, snow and cloud, while Lake Michigan remains mostly unfrozen. However, large amounts of ice rest against the eastern shore of Michigan, piled there by prevailing wind. The clouds of Winter Storm Leon, in progress as this image was captured, hang over the southeast.