This image from NOAA's GOES satellites on Dec. 22 at 14:45 UTC (9:45 a.m. EST) shows clouds with a lot of precipitation affecting the U.S. Image Credit: NASA/NOAA GOES Project

NASA Satellite Image Shows Two-Third US Submerged in Christmas Eve Clouds, Snow

The Christmas Eve and following holidays will be mostly cloudy, beset with snow in many places as shown in a satellite image of  NOAA’s GOES-East satellite, that is up there to keep a weather eye for storms that may affect early travelers. The wide-field image created from GOES-East imagery shows two-thirds of the U.S. blanketed in clouds that are bringing areas of rain and snow across the country.

NOAA’s GOES-East satellite provides visible and infrared images over the eastern U.S. and the Atlantic Ocean, while NOAA’s GOES-West satellite covers the western U.S. and Pacific Ocean from their fixed orbits in space. The image was created at NASA’s GOES Project on Dec. 22 at 14:45 UTC (9:45 a.m. EST).

On Monday, Dec. 22 the Short Range Forecast Discussion generated by the National Weather Service (NWS) Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland stated: “Heavy precipitation along the west coast will persist with a focus along the Coastal Ranges and Cascades. While not nearly as impressive as recent days, the forecast suggests another 1 to 3 inches of rainfall is possible across this region. Farther inland, moderate to heavy snow is likely over the Wasatch and Colorado Rockies, with 1 to 2 foot amounts possible through Monday.”

NWS cited a couple of major weather areas over the next couple of days: A well-defined closed low is expected to form across the middle Mississippi Valley by Monday evening. This will be the focus for unsettled weather over the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest where wintry precipitation is forecast, with several inches of snow from South Dakota eastward into Minnesota and northern Michigan.

There are four areas of low pressure affecting the U.S., according to the NWS surface map issued on Dec. 22. One low located just off the coast of South Carolina has created a large area of clouds and rain along the Gulf Coastal states and southeastern and Mid-Atlantic. That low, coupled with the flow from another low situated over the Heartland, is bringing rainfall all the way along the East Coast up to New England. NWS noted that some of the precipitation may also generate freezing rain in the Appalachian Mountain chain from Virginia to Vermont.

The second large area of clouds seen on the GOES image blankets the nation’s Heartland. There are two low pressure areas associated with those clouds, one situated over eastern Nebraska and Kansas and is generating snows in parts of South and North Dakota, and rain/snow in the Upper-Midwest and Great Lakes Region. The other low is located over northern Texas. The fourth area of low pressure is located over northern Nevada, and the associated cold front trails to the southeast of the low, which is helping generate some heavy snows in the Colorado Rockies and northeastern New Mexico.

The driest part of the country includes most of California, southwestern Nevada and Arizona. Most of the rest of the lower 48 states are getting some kind of precipitation today, December 22 making for messy pre-holiday travel.

NWS said that weather across the U.S. from Dec. 22 to Dec. 24 will see a developing storm system across the eastern U.S. this week, periods of rain and mountain snow for the northwest U.S., and showers and thunderstorms for the Gulf Coast states.

To create the image, NASA/NOAA’s GOES Project takes the cloud data from NOAA’s GOES-East satellite and overlays it on a true-color image of land and ocean created by data from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, or MODIS, instrument that flies aboard NASA’s Aqua and Terra satellites. Together, those data created the entire picture of the storm and show its movement. After the storm system passes, the snow on the ground becomes visible.

NOAA’s GOES satellites provide the kind of continuous monitoring necessary for intensive data analysis. Geostationary describes an orbit in which a satellite is always in the same position with respect to the rotating Earth. This allows GOES to hover continuously over one position on Earth’s surface, appearing stationary. As a result, GOES provide a constant vigil for the atmospheric triggers for severe weather conditions such as tornadoes, flash floods, hail storms and hurricanes.(NASA)

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