First Day of Winter Obvious on NASA Satellite Image of the U.S. Plains States



Washington, DC, United States

Winter arrived officially on Dec. 22 at 12:35 a.m. EST, but the U.S. Plains states received an early and cool welcome on Dec. 19 from heavy snowfall that was seen by a NASA satellite.

NASA's Aqua satellite passed overhead on Dec. 21 at 20:05 UTC (3:05 p.m. EST) and the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument aboard NASA's Aqua satellite captured a visible image of snow blanketing the ground through west and central Kansas, eastern and central Colorado, much of New Mexico, northern Texas and the panhandle of Oklahoma.

According to CBS News, blizzard conditions were reported in northern New Mexico, the Texas Panhandle, Oklahoma and northwestern Kansas. The Associated Press reported snow drifts as high as 10 feet in southeast Colorado. Six people lost their lives in traffic accidents from this storm.

Heavy snow is expected again today, Dec. 22 in New Mexico and Colorado. Snow is also expected to stretch across the plains into the upper Midwest today, according to the National Weather Service. Portions of many states are expecting some snow today, including the four corners states, north Texas, Kansas, southern Nebraska, western Oklahoma, northern Missouri, Iowa, northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin stretching east into northern New England.

The first day of the winter season occurs when the sun is farthest south, either Dec. 21 or 22. The day is also known as the winter solstice. By the second day of winter, NASA's Aqua satellite is going to have a lot more snowfall to observe.

Image Credit: NASA Goddard MODIS Rapid Response Team
Caption: NASA, Rob Gutro

NASA image use policy.

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center enables NASA’s mission through four scientific endeavors: Earth Science, Heliophysics, Solar System Exploration, and Astrophysics. Goddard plays a leading role in NASA’s accomplishments by contributing compelling scientific knowledge to advance the Agency’s mission.

Follow us on Twitter


  • Title: First Day of Winter Obvious on NASA Satellite Image of the U.S. Plains States
  • Date Created: 2017-12-08
  • Location: Greenbelt, MD
  • Rights: GSFC
  • Album: ayoung

Get the app

Explore museums and play with Art Transfer, Pocket Galleries, Art Selfie, and more


Google apps