The first snowfall of the new year fell with a fury across Central Europe, leaving the lower Danube River valley hidden under a thick white blanket of snow. On January 2, 2011, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Terra satellite passed overhead and captured this true-color image.
The snow began to fall on January 1 and by January 2, according to Reuters, two days of high wind and snow had cut power to hundreds of towns and villages in Romania and Bulgaria, blocked roads and forced Bucharest’s two airports and some Black Sea ports to close. On this day, the mayor of Bucharest appealed to residents to clear a layer of up to 50 cm (20 inches) of snow, and to use public transportation rather than private cars. Temperatures of -16°C (3°F) were reported in parts of Romania.
The Danube River, seen in the center of the image as a dark blue line, runs across the Romanian Plain where it forms much of the border between Romania (to the north) and Bulgaria (to the south). The Danube is the second longest river in Europe, shorter only than the Volga. It is fed by numerous tributaries flowing down from the Southern Carpathian Mountains, or, as they are often called, the Transylvanian Alps. In this image, the arcing ridges of the mountain range are lightly covered in snow, while the river valleys stand out in stark white relief. As these valleys reach the lower slopes, dark blue lines mark the spot where the rivers become snow-free as they flow towards the Danube.
On the eastern coastline, the faintly purple fan-shape plain marks the Danube Delta, where vast flocks of migratory birds gather in the wintertime to find food, shelter and a favorable climate. It is here the Danube drains into the Black Sea. In the center of the image, Bucharest, the capital of Romania and home to approximately two million people, can be seen as a large gray circle against the snowy white background of the Romania Plain.