Record Setting US Snowstorm as Seen From Space

Article written: 21 Dec , 2009
Updated: 24 Dec , 2015
by

A record-setting snowstorm that blanketed the US Atlantic coast snarled both road and air traffic as holiday travelers and shoppers were forced to stay home. In all, the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) reported 66 daily snow records in the northeastern United States were tied or broken over the weekend. Additionally, 21 monthly snow total records were tied or broken. Snowfall totals from 30 – 60 cm (1 to 2 feet) were commonplace.

This image from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite shows the Chesapeake Bay area cloaked in white on December 21, 2009, the first day of northern hemisphere winter. The winter solstice occurred Monday at 16:47 GMT (11:47 am EST). Learn more about the solstice on today’s 365 Days of Astronomy podcast, “December Solstice, Celebrating the Light” by Dr. Judith Young.

The image above encompasses about 480 km (300 miles) lengthwise. The two big rivers near the center are the Susquehanna (north) and Potomac rivers, which flow into the Chesapeake Bay. Washington, D.C., sits alongside the Potomac, just north of the river’s hook-shaped curve. The inlet to the north is Delaware Bay.

Source: NASA’s Earth Observatory



29 Responses

  1. Lawrence B. Crowell says

    The Rappahannock River is more visible than the Susquehanna River, which is virtually invisible. Maybe the Susquehanna is covered in ice. Stunning picture really. The Rappahannock was the river the battle of Fredrickburg was fought.

    LC

  2. DrFlimmer says

    On Saturday we had record breaking -16°C in Germany, which was probably the coldest day I recall. It was even colder than in January, when we had -10°C and colder for a week or so.
    And I was in a soccer stadium on Saturday, standing there for hours. But it was the 100. birthday of Borussia Dortmund which I couldn’t miss. It was a fantastic show, and we won the game 🙂

  3. Spoodle58 says

    *Cough* *Cough*
    Any global warming theorists want to explain this one,
    or are you too cold to chat. 🙂

  4. ND says

    *Cough* *Cough*

    Please show me where GW says you can’t have short term record lows in local and regional weather. Are there not also record highs above the predicted average trend?

  5. Sili says

    Is it not also logical that increased evaporation due to increased temperatures might lead to increased precipitation in places? (What comes up, yaddah yaddah yaddah.)

  6. RUF says

    Does 10 years running constitute a “short-term record low”?

  7. Spoodle58 says

    @ ND
    Great point. ‘Short term records’.
    Maybe the highs (GW) are short term.

    @ Sili
    What about the decreased temperature?

  8. Olaf says

    @Spoodle58,
    what letter of “GLOBAL” did you not understand?

    GLOBAL means a bit bigger than you back yard, even bigger than your city. even bigger than your country, it actually reaches way beyond Australia where it is very hot right now.

    You also have the word “AVERAGE” so we might see in 10 years if the temperature has declined. Unless you can channel some alien from the future.

  9. Olaf says

    Why is it that conspiracy theorists and creationists comes with the same brainless questions every time.
    They know in advance that they will be shot down with real arguments on a science site and still they have this sadomasochistic nature to keep on trying the same arguments like a stupid donkey hitting a stone, again and again and again and again and again…

    I heard one very good explanation about conspiracy theorists. Believing in conspiracies is a first sign that the person has some mental issues that will become apparent in the future.

  10. ND says

    RUF,

    Which 10 years are you talking aboot?

  11. ND says

    According to the NOAA on this page:

    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/?report=global&year=2009&month=13&submitted=Get+Report#gtemp

    “Global Temperatures
    The years 2001-2008 rank among the ten warmest years of the 130-year (1880-2009) record and 2009 will certainly join them as one of the ten warmest years of the global surface temperature record. “

  12. Member
    Aqua says

    Saw a Republican Congressperson/pundit on the tube the other day say the same thing, “How could there be global warming with all this snow?” THAT statement speaks multitudes about ‘short term thinking’, which resembles decision making based upon ‘short term profits’.

  13. Member
    Aqua says

    Singing: Sha la, la la la lah live for today.. and don’t worry about tomorrow! Because, tomorrow never comes! Sha la la la la la live for today….

  14. Mr. Man says

    Jesus! How come anything that even remotely has to do with Global Warming, always has to become a foundation where anti-global warming theorists spew their nonesense. Let me ask you guys something, how come when it’s unseasonably hot, it doesn’t cause global warming but when its slightly colder than average, all of a sudden you guys come out and act as if it means climate change doesn’t exist?! Anyway, I think the link above shows the truth for you guys.

  15. DrFlimmer says

    @ Aqua:

    Very well said! Very well, indeed!

    @ Mr. Man:

    It’s the same as with those PC crackpots that might have gone after all. Whenever there was something about cosmology, black holes, stars, the sun, planets… ähm…. say, everything, they showed up. It’s just the same. Interestingly those PC guys also showed a tendency towards Anti-AGW…

  16. ND says

    Straying off topic at a tangent…

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2008/09/the-mpg-confusion/

    Reducing emissions from cars has several benefits but you don’t need to go for the most fuel efficient car. If you can replace an old SUV with something like 25 mpg vehigle, there is a large benefit.

  17. Duncan Ivry says

    I want to see the climate change deniers versus climate-gate deniers death match.

    No, not really. It’s all so boring.

  18. star-grazer west coast says

    What I really find interesting is going to Weather.com-I take London UK and check the weather in motion then zoom out more to see the cloud patterns over Europe then zoom out to cover most of the Earth, The weather in motion covers the last 30 hours, I find very interest the location of the continents and topography determines where the cloud s (storms) will cover and areas where clouds will rarely cover over(Sahara desert or ‘horse’ latitudes) To me, what is strange is, India and SE Asia will get the monsoons while the Saudi Arabian landmass stays arid. For the last few days, a sluggish Low centers over the UK, bringing above average rains to the western Mediterranean areas. Where I live in California currently gets ‘crumbs’. I love the ‘weather in motion’!!!

  19. Silver Thread says

    That’s an incredible Photo.

  20. Spoodle58 says

    @ Olaf

    I understand the word ‘global’ perfectly well. Thank you.

    My sister says in her ‘backyard’ in Brisbane, Australia, it is about 20C, dark clouds and raining this morning, that doesn’t sound very hot for mid summer.

    In regards to your second post.
    I am not a creationist, I have no belief in any god or gods. In matter of fact I have no beliefs whatsoever, merely that a scientific theory may or may not apply.

    Have you stopped to think that maybe your theory is the conspiracy theory.
    If the theory of global warming is best applied to Earth’s current situation then please add your evidence to that effect.
    Furthermore you have not shot me down with a real argument, you have only shot yourself in the foot by ranting in your post.

  21. ND says

    According to NOAA

    “Notable temperature extremes in 2009 include southern Australia’s record-breaking heatwave during their summer months of January-February.”

    But it’s not worth talking to you because you’ll be ignoring facts aren’t you?

  22. Spoodle58 says

    @ ND

    I am aware of the heatwave in South East Australia in early 2009, I have many friends and relatives living in the Melbourne area, the resulting bush fires claimed 173 lives, thankfully no one I knew was injured or worse.

    But are you aware that heatwaves even as bad as this years heatwave happened around 100 years ago in the South Eastern Australia.

    1895–96, South east – 437 deaths
    1907–08, South east – 246 deaths

    This information is from the ema.gov.au an Australian Government Group that monitors disasters in the country.

  23. ND says

    Spoodle58,

    You’re selectively taking short term highs and lows to argue against GW. This shows that you don’t understand what GW is about. Global temperatures have been studied by independent groups of climate scientists and their conclusions are clear.

    GW does not say there won’t be record lows in local and regional weather or even that a year may not average lower than the previous.

    Why am I even replying?

  24. Spoodle58 says

    @ ND

    You are replying to enlighten me on the theory you currently have favour with, you need not of course.

    Taking temperature ranges in a global scale over millions of years, you will note and agree that the planet is quite cold at present.

    Yet GW theory implies that humans are warming the planet when natural events have in the past far exceeded temperature increases that humans would never be able to accomplish on its present industrial scale. For example at present humans input a mere 2.5% of the total amount of CO2 that goes into the atmosphere each year.

    Has it ever occurred to you that climate scientists might want to keep there jobs and improvise on some of the data to increase funding, and this is not theory, reports of climate scientists doing this has been made public, so don’t use the argument that climate scientists have studied GW.

    Dont forget also, The last 10 years have been cold compared to the previous 10, yet GW used the previous 10 to boost its theory support.

    Don’t let this annoy you too much also, I don’t burn tyres or drive a big car, I have always been careful to the environment, its just that GW theory is full of holes.

    Evening to you.

  25. Member
    Aqua says

    @ ND Try this: http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%253A%252F%252Fwww.nasa.gov%252Fmultimedia%252Fimagegallery%252Fimage_feature_1546.html&h=b74cc87bdd0a272d44114c223ac35a71&ref=mf

    NOW think about the extreme irony that GW (Global Warming) shares the same acronym as GW Bush = ACK! (A Climate Killer)

  26. Member
    Aqua says

    Ooops.. rereading I find that I saw @ ND as part of SPOODLE 58’s comment (Screen height vs. scrolling misread). Apologies that I misaddressed my comment @ ND

  27. Hon. Salacious B. Crumb says

    The problem with really cold weather is that it increases population! It encourages people to stay longer in bed, leading to, um, more close encounters.
    It will be interesting to see in September 2010 the birthrate spike throughout US and much of Europe. (This will add even more in emissions and global warming then the current generation!)

  28. Spoodle58 says

    @ Hon. Salacious B. Crumb

    Might be true but it would only amount to a increase in the thousands or hundred of thousands of a percent in terms of CO2 emissions etc.

    But also people will be traveling less and some business will not even be running, as for the new humans been made, people are also dying or becoming injured due to the cold.
    So in terms of numbers it may even itself out.

  29. Hon. Salacious B. Crumb says

    @Spoodle58;

    What you say is absolutely true. However, I was more thinking of a an entire human lifespan. With the population of the entire world increasing just add more strain on global warming.
    As to the “cuddling up in bed” , so to speak, I only added to comment for levity. (Good pastime though)

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