Snow in the Great Plains of Canada and the United States

Snow in the Great Plains of Canada and the United States
  • Credit:

    Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC

One of the season’s first widespread snowfalls, at least in the U.S., was captured in this true-color Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) image from November 1, 2002. A winter storm has blanketed large areas of the Great Plains in Canada (top tier) and the U.S., dusting the dark green slopes of the Rocky Mountains (left edge) with white, and settling in sheets over (top tier, left to right) Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, Canada; (middle tier) Montana, North Dakota, and Minnesota; (bottom tier) Idaho, Wyoming, and South Dakota. In the high-resolution imagery, the rectangular pattern of agricultural fields can be seen in the snow.

The particular stretch of Rocky Mountains running along the Idaho-Montana border is the Bitterroot Range, mapped by Lewis and Clark on their 1804-1805 expedition. The range running from the British Columbia and Alberta border down into Montana is the Lewis Range, while the mountains running from south-central Montana into northern Wyoming is the Absaroka Range.

The brightness of the snow makes water bodies stand out in deep blue. In eastern Montana, there is Fort Peck Reservoir. In Saskatchewan, there are Lake Diefenbaker (west) and Last Mountain Lake (east), looking like little more than wide spots in a river. In North Dakota and South Dakota dams on the Missouri River create long, thin reservoirs. At upper right of the image, Lakes Winnipegosis and Winnipeg are taking on a cloudy green appearance, which suggests they are beginning to freeze.

Images & Animations


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  • JPEG 448 KB
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  • JPEG 2 MB
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  • Data Date:

    November 1, 2002
  • Visualization Date:

    November 12, 2002
  • Sensor(s):

    Aqua - MODIS
NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration