December 5, 2013 - Snow in western United States

Snow in western United States

In late November, 2013 the second-named winter storm of the 2013-2014 season moved across the United States, bringing a mix of snow, rain, ice and wind from California to Maine. According to the Weather Channel, roughly 58 million Americans were affected by either snow or ice from the Desert Southwest to northern New England an area of over 2.5 million square miles. On November 26, as the storm was winding down but not yet complete the U.S. snow cover hit a 10 year maximum for this time of year.

Winter Storm Boreas, named for the Greek god of the north wind, crawled over the western United States from November 21-24, bringing ice to southern Texas and impressive amounts of snow across the entire region. Snow totals reached 11.4 inches in Flagstaff, Arizona and 13 inches in Vinson, Oklahoma, while Moab, Utah received 6.5 inches just shy of the 6.9 inch average for the entire season. California and Nevada dealt with extreme winds and, where temperatures were too warm for snow, the precipitation came in rain or ice. Rain fell in Las Vegas for the first time in two months - the 0.90 inch rainfall recorded on November 21 was the wettest day recorded in November for that city since 1972. At the borderline between warm and cold temperatures, ice became a serious issue. Up to one-half inch of ice was reported in areas of Texas, with substantial icing also reported across Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, southern Kansas, and eastern New Mexico.

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Aqua satellite passed over the western United States on November 26, 2013, capturing a true-color image of the aftermath of the storm. Parts of 17 states and a bit of southern Canada can be seen in this image, almost all with fresh snowfall from Boreas. The snowfall is the most dramatic in the states seen at the western edge of the image. From north to south these are Montana; a slim bit of eastern Idaho with Wyoming to the east; Utah, with Colorado to the east; eastern Arizona with New Mexico to the east. The states in the central tier have been brushed with snow, especially in their western sections. These are, from north to south, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. Smudges of snow color the eastern-most states (Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri and Arkansas).

While most of the western United States was cloud-free on November 26, Winter Storm Boreas was still active just to the east of this image. Strong gusts of wind up to 63 mph (101 km/h) blew from November 25 -26, downing power lines in southeast New England. Several major northeastern airports suffered cancellations and flight delays, including all three serving New York City. At least 14 deaths were attributed to Boreas across five separate states.

Image Facts
Satellite: Aqua
Date Acquired: 11/26/2013
Resolutions: 1km ( B), 500m ( B), 250m ( B)
Bands Used: 1,4,3
Image Credit: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC