Heavy Snow in Northeastern United States

Heavy Snow in Northeastern United States

An unseasonably early snowstorm dropped as much as 32 inches (81 centimeters) on some parts of the northeastern United States in late October 2011. The nor’easter left wet, heavy snow on trees that were still loaded with leaves. News reports described snapped branches and power lines, and utility companies were scrambling to restore lights and heat.

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this natural-color image on October 30, 2011. A swath of snow sweeps from West Virginia to Maine. Clouds hover east and west of the snow, blocking the satellite sensor’s view of western Pennsylvania and parts of the Atlantic Ocean.

The storm broke snowfall-total records in cities throughout the U.S. Northeast, the a href="http://www.washingtonpost.comhttp://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/blogs/capital-weather-gang/post/historic-october-northeast-storm-epic-incredible-downright-ridiculous/2011/10/31/gIQApy7LZM_blog.html#pagebreak">Capital Weather Gang reported. The nor’easter was also intense, causing wind gusts along the Massachusetts coastline of 69 miles (111 kilometers) per hour.

More than 3 million homes and businesses lost electricity because of the storm, including a record loss of electricity in Connecticut that was worse than the outages caused by Hurricane Irene. As residents headed back to work on October 31, closed or icy roads complicated commutes in multiple states. Rising temperatures were expected to help melt the snow.

  1. References

  2. Freedman, A. (2011, October 31). Historic October Northeast storm: Epic. Incredible. Downright ridiculous. Capital Weather Gang. The Washington Post. Accessed October 31, 2011.
  3. Hydrometeorological Prediction Center. (2011, October 31). Storm summary message. U.S. National Weather Service. Accessed October 31, 2011.
  4. Melia, M., Associated Press. (2011, October 30). Early snow affects millions. Times Union. Accessed October 31, 2011.
  5. MSNBC. (2011, October 31). “What a storm”: Power still out for millions after early snow. Accessed October 31, 2011.

Images & Animations


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  • Data Date:

    October 30, 2011
  • Visualization Date:

    October 31, 2011
  • Sensor(s):

    Terra - MODIS
NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration