December 1, 2019 - Cloud Streets in the Sea of Okhotsk

Cloud Streets in the Sea of Okhotsk

Frigid air and strong winds created stunning cloud formations over the Sea of Okhotsk in late November, 2019. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite acquired a true-color image of the icy scene on November 27.

Snow covers Khabarovsk Krai in Eastern Russia in the west of this image, where temperatures typically fall well below zero Fahrenheit by November. According to, the temperatures on November 27 at Kekra, a city near the coast, plummeted to -47°F (-44°C) as a high temperature and a low of -53°F (-47.2°C) on November 27—cold even by Siberian standards. Average high and low for that date are -39°F (-39.4°C) and -46°F (-43.3°C).

As strong winds blow over the frigid, relatively dry land and out over the relatively warmer, much moister ocean water, the action creates long cylinders of spinning airs. Where the air is rising, clouds form. As the air descends, the skies become clear. This alternating cloud-and-clear arrangement creates a stunning pattern called “cloud streets”, which, in this case, cover the blue waters of the Sea of Okhotsk. The cloud streets align along the direction of the wind movement.

Image Facts
Satellite: Aqua
Date Acquired: 11/27/2019
Resolutions: 1km (1.5 MB), 500m (4.3 MB), 250m (9.5 MB)
Bands Used: 1,4,3
Image Credit: MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC