February 16, 2014 - Snow in southwest Asia

Snow in southwest Asia

Heavy snow and bitterly cold weather swept across much of southwest Asia in early February, 2014. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Terra satellite flew over the region on February 5 and captured this true-color image.

A broad swath of white snow coats the arid lands of Turkmenistan (center of image), northern Iran (to the south of Turkmenistan) and northwestern Afghanistan (southeast corner of image). Uzbekistan also wears a blanket of snow, while clouds cover northwestern Uzbekistan and western Kazakhstan.

A powerful storm dropped snow across Turkmenistan early in the month, with average accumulations of 12 cm (4.7 in) across most of the country. According to the Ministry of Public Utilities of Turkmenistan, 175 units of specialized equipment were used in the capital city, Ashgabat. The cold snap brought temperatures to 10 to -16C (10 to 3.2F). Although uncommonly cold, it was not a record low. The coldest air temperature in Turkmenistan was recorded in the winter of 1969 in the eastern part of the Central Karakum Desert a bone chilling -35C (-31F).

On February 3, a blizzard brought even heavier snow across Iran. According to NASA Earth Observatory, a BBC official in the northern province of Mazandaren said the snowfall was the worst to hit the area in 50 years, with up to 2 m (more than 6 feet) of snow falling in some places. Over half a million homes were reported to be without power after the storm.

Image Facts
Satellite: Terra
Date Acquired: 2/5/2014
Resolutions: 1km (368 KB), 500m (1.2 MB), 250m (3.1 MB)
Bands Used: 1,4,3
Image Credit: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC