Snow from space! Satellite shows snowpack from Thursday’s storm

Up to 5 inches of snow fell in parts of North Carolina, Virginia


Just how radar can “see” things other than rain and storms, satellites in space can see the ground when there are cloud-free skies.

In this case, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s satellite, known as GOES-EAST is “seeing” the snow that fell Thursday as most of the clouds associated with the storm have moved out. Visible satellite only works during the day, hence the name visible satellite. If it’s night, all you would see is a dark screen. In the daylight hours, however, anything illuminated by the sun can bee seen by the satellite.

There were still clouds over the Carolinas and Virginia Friday morning, but most of the white through Virginia and North Carolina was from the snow that fell Thursday.

Snow Vs. Clouds

This becomes more obvious if the image above was looping. The clouds, of course, would be moving, but the bright white in North Carolina and Virginia, the snow, wouldn’t move at all. You may see subtle changes in the snow cover through the day as the sun starts to melt the snow, especially where accumulations were on the lighter side.

The GOES-EAST spacecraft that made these observations was launched from Cape Canaveral on a United Launch Alliance rocket in 2016.

About the Author:

Jonathan Kegges joined the News 6 team in June 2019 and now covers weather on TV and all digital platforms.