Snow Across Western United States
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Snow Across Western United States

March 13, 2012
Snow covered the western United States on March 4, 2012 when the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Aqua satellite passed overhead and captured this true-color image.

The snow lies primarily on the mountain ranges, with the prairies and lowlands remaining mostly snow-free, especially in the south. The Rocky Mountains run north to south through Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah and Colorado. Near the coast, California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains are also snow-capped.

Winter snowfall is particularly important in the arid western states, because winter snowpack provides summer water for agriculture and human use in the region. The winter of 2012 has been mild in many areas of the western United States, with relatively little snow. According to the USDA Mountain Snowpack map, as of March 1, the primary area with snowpack equal to or greater than the average (as measured from 1971-2000) was northern Idaho and the Idaho/Montana border area. Parts of southern Idaho, much of Utah, and Nevada had snowpack of 50-69% of average, while the Sierra Nevada Mountains measured only 25-49% of average.

Credits: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC

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