A “bomb cyclone” had widespread effect across the United States and Canada.
New satellite images show snow and clouds blanketing the northeastern US states as well as the Canadian province of Ontario. Dangerous ground conditions on Saturday (December 24) and Sunday (December 25) included blizzards, deep snow and freezing rain, posing a threat to travelers during the peak holiday season.
“As the winds howled and the snow piled up in what some forecasters called a ‘“once in a generation” storm (opens in a new tab)as do traffic accidents, power outages, and transportation issues,” NASA officials wrote in a statement. (opens in a new tab) in the images, obtained with the agency’s Aqua satellite.
Wind gusts were recorded up to 79 mph (127 km/h) in Lackawanna, New York, just south of the city of Buffalo. Several other states have seen winds blowing at 80 km/h, according to National Weather Service statistics cited by NASA.
Related: ‘Bomb cyclone’ hits eastern US as satellites watch (video)
This false-color version of the image uses a combination of visible and short-wave infrared light to distinguish clouds (white) from snow and ice (blue). pic.twitter.com/370V5yMgIlDecember 27, 2022
A “bomb cyclone” refers to a sudden drop in pressure of at least 24 millibars in 24 hours. Combined with blizzard conditions, some communities along the Great Lakes saw incredible amounts of snow.
Communities east of Lake Ontario and Lake Erie, particularly the Buffalo area, experienced a storm surge of more than 50 inches (127 cm), NASA officials noted. However, other regions saw less snow reaching the ground, peaking at only about 5 inches (13 cm).
Aqua obtained the images using its Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS). The image at the top of this article is in natural color, while the Twitter embed focuses on visible infrared and shortwave light to better see the differences between (white) clouds and snow and snow. ice (blue).
Satellites are a key tool in weather forecasting and also in responding to disasters, should they arise. NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have a large fleet watching the planet and have pledged to launch more in the 2020s to refresh some of the older ones. Aqua, for example, was launched in 2002.
Elizabeth Howell is co-author of “Why am I taller (opens in a new tab)?” (ECW Press, 2022; with Canadian astronaut Dave Williams), a book on space medicine. Follow her on Twitter @howellspace (opens in a new tab). Follow us on twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in a new tab) or Facebook (opens in a new tab).