Here it Comes — Nasty Winter Storm Boreas

By Tom Yulsman | November 26, 2013 1:27 pm
Winter Storm Boreas Terra

NASA’s Terra Satellite captured this false color composite view of the United States on Saturday, Nov. 25, 2013. The salmon colored clouds show the storm that is now starting to move up the East Coast. (Image: NASA)

By now, you’ve probably heard of it: Winter Storm Boreas, the beast that threatens to disrupt travel for millions of Americans on the eve of Thanksgiving. But have you seen it in this light?

The image above is a false-color, composite view of the United States from NASA’s Terra satellite. It was captured yesterday by the MODIS instrument and emphasizes wavelengths of light that are particularly good at highlighting snow and ice. In the image, snow is revealed by the vivid red-orange colors. But what we’re interested in is the salmon coloring, which reveals the presence of small ice crystals in high-level clouds.

That big splotch of salmon coloring in the South and Midwest is what was headed for the East Coast yesterday. And now it has arrived, bringing a really nasty mix of snow, sleet, rain and wind. Here’s what it looks like as I’m writing this, in an animation from a GOES weather satellite:

About half the way through you can see the beginning of a huge blossoming of thick clouds originating from water vapor streaming off the Gulf of Mexico. In fact, the amount of water vapor contributing to the storm will reach record highs for November, according to Jeff Masters, chief meteorologist for In addition to thunderstorms and a risk of tornadoes in the Southeast, this will bring as much as five inches of rain to some parts of the Northeast:

Precipitation forecast Winter Storm Boreas

Precipitation forecast for the next three days. (Source: NOAA)

Both of my kids are scheduled to fly out of New York City early tomorrow morning to join the family for Thanksgiving here in Colorado. Like millions of Americans, I have my fingers crossed that they’ll be able to complete their travel. But looking at these images, I’m not terribly hopeful!

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Extreme Weather, select, Top Posts, Weather
  • bacondoyle

    I hope your kids get home. But during the many years I lived in Colorado, crazy weather, including close all roads, airports, and rail lines, was one of the things I liked,

  • PolishBear

    Please, please, PLEASE do not pander to The Weather Channel’s pretentious practice of “naming” every snow event that comes down the pike. They have no more right to name this storm than I do. It is nothing more than a publicity stunt. If storms like hurricanes must be named, let the appropriate government agency do so. But a snowfall? Puh-leeze.

    • PolishBear

      I mean, REALLY: What’s The Weather Channel going to start naming next? HEAT WAVES?



ImaGeo is a visual blog focusing on the intersection of imagery, imagination and Earth. It focuses on spectacular visuals related to the science of our planet, with an emphasis (although not an exclusive one) on the unfolding Anthropocene Epoch.

About Tom Yulsman

Tom Yulsman is Director of the Center for Environmental Journalism and a Professor of Journalism at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He also continues to work as a science and environmental journalist with more than 30 years of experience producing content for major publications. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Audubon, Climate Central, Columbia Journalism Review, Discover, Nieman Reports, and many other publications. He has held a variety of editorial positions over the years, including a stint as editor-in-chief of Earth magazine. Yulsman has written one book: Origins: the Quest for Our Cosmic Roots, published by the Institute of Physics in 2003.


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