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Snow-Covered Britain: Earth Image of the Week February 8, 2013
Satellite image of Britain under snow.
More than a dozen people died in snow-related accidents across the United Kingdom during late January.
It was nicknamed the “Beast from the East,” by some U.K. media — an Arctic blast that plunged Britain into a deep freeze in late January and left a rare nationwide blanket of snow.

That beast is known to meteorologists as the Scandinavian Block. It's an area of high pressure to the east of the British Isles that establishes frigid conditions, which can turn mild storms from the North Atlantic into snowmakers.

The winter wonderland one such atmospheric configuration created last month was captured by NASA’s Terra satellite at midday on January 26, 2013.

The image to the right shows most of England, Wales and Scotland covered in white, except for small areas along the northwest coast and in the southwest of England.

Almost a foot of snow fell in parts of the Scottish Highlands while parts of Wales received 8 inches.

The frozen precipitation severely disrupted air traffic and brought ground transportation to a halt in some areas as well.

Snow is a relatively uncommon sight forw much of the United Kingdom. The Gulf Stream ocean current funnels warm waters toward the British Isles, moderating the atmosphere and making conditions there milder than what would otherwise be expected for such northerly latitudes.

Shortly after the image to the upper right was captured, temperatures across Britain rose sharply, and accompanying rainfall quickly melted much of the snow cover.

The meteorological shift caused flooding in parts of England and Wales.

Full story and image: NASA