The colors of spring greeted the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite as it passed over the eastern United States on April 7, 2012 at 18:50 UTC (2:50 EDT).
The curving expanse of the Appalachian Mountain can be seen extending from New York state in the north, to Georgia in the south. In this image, the higher elevations have taken on a pinkish-tan cast, most likely the result of the dense spring blooms of deciduous trees. Maple, a common tree in much of the Appalachian region, is an early bloomer with a pink flower, as is the bright Redbud.
Surrounding the mountains, the land is covered in green, indicating the lush growth of spring vegetation in the hills and lowlands. Some mountain valleys, as well as a broad section of Ohio and Indiana (in the northwest) appear tan. These areas are highly agricultural regions, where fields often stay bare or filled with dry crop stubble until late spring planting. A similar pattern can be seen along the east coast, on the peninsula shared by Delaware, Maryland and Virginia. Known as the Delmarva Peninsula, the area is heavily agricultural.
A long gray streak runs in a north-south direction west of the Delmarva Peninsula. This is the I-95 corridor, which, according to Federal Highway Administration, carries an average daily traffic load of 72,000 vehicles along its full length from Maine to Georgia. A very large gray smudge along this corridor, in the upper right corner of the image, marks the metropolitan area of New York city. Traveling south, the cities seen from space are Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C.
Although the land is filled with spring colors, the first months of the year have been both warm and dry throughout the region, making the risk of fire high. In the southern edge of this image, MODIS has captured the smoke from the County Line Fire, which started on April 5 when lightning struck tinder-dry swampland. According to Inciweb, as of April 13, the fire has burned over 34,000 acres of land, and is only 60% contained.