December 4, 2022 - Snow across the Midwestern United States


On the first day of meteorological winter, December 1, 2022, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on board NASA’s Terra satellite acquired a true-color image of a broad band of snow stretching across parts of the Midwestern United States. The snowy swath was dropped by a late-November snowstorm that crossed the Midwest on November 29, bringing snow, sleet, ice, and driving accidents to the region, including reports of a jack-knifed tractor trailer on icy Highway 275 near Norfolk, Nebraska. The states coated with the fresh swath of white in this image include (from southwest to northeast): Nebraska, southeast South Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. In the northwest, cloud covers most of South Dakota and part of North Dakota.

When we think of the first day of winter, most of us think of us the “winter” that starts on the winter solstice, which is when the Northern Hemisphere experiences the shortest amount of daylight in the year. This is the first day of astronomical winter. Because it takes our planet a little more than 365 days to travel around the Sun, the astronomical start of each season varies from year to year, and a correction by the addition of a leap day every four years. The meteorological seasons, on the other hand, are more repeatable, breaking the year into seasons based on temperature, each starting the first day of a month. This is especially helpful when comparing and studying weather patterns for agriculture and commerce.

Image Facts
Satellite: Terra
Date Acquired: 12/1/2022
Resolutions: 1km (170.9 KB), 500m (643 KB), 250m (2.1 MB)
Bands Used: 1,4,3
Image Credit: MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC