The Midwest was hit by two paralyzing blizzards within a week’s time during late February.
Kansas received the brunt of the first, with Kansas City getting buried in its deepest snowfall on record for the date.
Much of America’s Heartland from the Rockies to New England received a thick blanket of the winter precipitation.
Until recently, it was impossible to see snow cover at night in satellite images.
But the super-sensitive visible light sensors aboard the new Suomi NPP satellite were able to capture the expanse of the wintry landscape well before dawn on February 22, 2013.
Punctuated by the lights of cities, highways and even small communities, the telltale milky white areas in the image to the right are where the waxing gibbous moon reflected off the snow-covered ground.
Areas in which city lights appear blurry are where clouds were obscuring the surface below.
The day-night imager aboard Suomi NPP takes advantage of moonlight, airglow (the atmosphere’s self-illumination through chemical reactions), zodiacal light (sunlight scattered by interplanetary dust) and starlight from the Milky Way.
By using these dim light sources, the satellite's day-night imager can detect changes in clouds, snow cover and sea ice.
Full story and image: NASA