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An unusually wide swath of significant snow cover resulted from a
series of winter storms moving northeastward across the central
United States during January 2931, 2002. Total
snowfall accumulations across the Great Plains, Midwest, and
Great Lakes regions were as high as 6-18 inches. Along the southeastern edge of the heavy snow
band, significant freezing rain resulted in a 1-3 inch coating of
ice across parts of Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri. This was one
of the worst ice storms in Oklahoma history, downing 4,000 electric
power poles and causing loss of power to a quarter of a million
homes and businesses.
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Terra satellite produced an image of the area on February 1, 2002.
In visible wavelengths (above, top) the ice appears transluscent,
in contrast to the bright white snow and darker ground. The ice is visible as a
thick black stripe along the lower right edge of the medium gray snow in the
near infrared image (above, lower). Because water absorbs near-infrared light so strongly,
bare ground is actually brighter than the snow in this image.
A clear, dry wind from the north blew southward across the Great Lakes
yesterday, picking up moisture from the lakes and pushing it high into
the air. The resulting cloud formation can be seen in this image of
United States taken on February 4, 2002, by the Sea-viewing Wide
Field-of-view Sensor (SeaWiFs) aboard the OrbView-2 satellite. The cloud
formation stretches across Indiana, Ohio, and northeastern Pennsylvania
before stopping abruptly at central and southern Appalachian Mountains.
A band of snowfall can also be seen lying across southern Nebraska,
Oklahoma, Iowa, and Michegan. The crisp, straight boundaries of the snow
are easily discernable in the image. In general, clouds appear streaky
and uneven on a satellite image, and snow cover appears solid with