Snow across the midwestern United States
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Snow across the midwestern United States

December 11, 2010
A frigid blast of cold air moved across the midwestern United States in early December 2010, leaving a broad covering of white snow over the tan lands. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Terra satellite acquired this true-color image at 11:05 a.m. Central time on December 7, two days after the weekend snow storm.

A swath of white defines the path of the storm from Minnesota to Kentucky in the image. Cloud streets streak across Lake Superior and Lake Michigan. Such clouds form when cold, dry air blows over the lakes. The moist air from the lakes freezes, forming long lines of clouds that echo the flow of the wind. The same process creates lake-effect snow, which was reported south and east of the lakes. The snow in northern Wisconsin and Michigan is likely lake effect snow off Lake Superior.

The stark white snow highlights ground features such as the river systems of the Midwest. Cities are darker than rural areas. The gray color of Chicago and its suburbs, located at the south-western tip of cloud-covered Lake Michigan, and the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin almost blend into the snowy white landscape.

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