February 9, 2009 - Snow in England

Snow in England

The MODIS on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this view of snow in England on February 4, 2009. The snow stretches from the English Channel north under a bank of clouds near the Scottish border. The winter storm that brought the snow in the first days of February blanketed southeast England with the heaviest snow the region had seen in 18 years, said BBC News. As much as 20 centimeters (8 inches) of snow fell on London. The poor weather closed transportation, schools, and businesses throughout southeastern England, reported BBC News.

Though clouds still lingered over parts of England, much of the storm-affected region was clear on February 4 when Terra MODIS captured these images. The main image shows England in a combination of visible light (the kind the human eye sees) and shortwave infrared light, which is not normally visible to people. This combination of light generates a false-color image that makes it easier to differentiate clouds from snow. In this type of image, snow is dark red. Plant-covered land is blue-green, and water is black. High, icy clouds are light orange, while lower-altitude water clouds are white. In this image, the extent of the snowfall under the clouds is a little clearer. Patches of dark red peek through breaks in the clouds in both the west and the north.

If you move your mouse over the image you'll see the same scene in “true color,” the colors the human eye would see if viewing Earth from space. Though both snow and clouds are white, the two have different textures. The snow highlights features on the ground. The buildings and roads of cities are darker under the snow, and as a result, London is actually easier to see than it would be on a snow-free winter day when the cement-colored city would blend with the surrounding brown landscape.

Image Facts
Satellite: Terra
Date Acquired: 02/04/2009
Resolutions: 1km ( B), 500m ( B), 250m ( B)
Bands Used: 7,2,1 and 1,4,3
Image Credit: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC