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Before, during, and after: the East Coast blizzard as seen from space

Brian Resnick is Vox’s science and health editor, and is the co-creator of Unexplainable, Vox's podcast about unanswered questions in science. Previously, Brian was a reporter at Vox and at National Journal.

Snowzilla, David Snowie, winter storm Jonas — whatever you want to call it — actually lived up to the hype: Communities from Virginia to Connecticut were buried under as much as 3.5 feet of powder after more than 36 hours of steady snowfall.

But from the distance of space, the storm looked a lot more peaceful, serene even — just another seemingly random swirl on the great blue marble. NASA and NOAA kept its eyes on this storm before, during, and after it passed. Here's what they saw.


On Thursday, January 21, an area of low pressure was making its way across the Southern United States. When it reached the Atlantic Ocean, it intensified and formed a blizzard. This image was captured at 10 am Thursday.

This satellite imagery from January 21 at 10 am EST shows the large winter storm over near the Gulf coast and another storm approaching the Pacific Coast.

Early Friday, January 22, NASA captured this image of the storm just as it was reaching the East Coast.

Using its supercomputers, on Friday NASA was able to animate the predicted path of the snowstorm. This video goes to show just how dynamic the Earth's weather is: Just in this limited section of the Northern Hemisphere, several weather events are churning.


The storm started in earnest for many in the mid-Atlantic January 22, with the worst conditions peaking overnight into Saturday.

During the peak of the storm early Saturday morning, NASA/NOAA shot this ethereal moonlit nighttime image from its Suomi NPP satellite.

"In the image, the clouds are lit from above by the nearly full Moon and from below by the lights of the heavily populated East Coast," NASA explains. "The city lights are blurred in places by cloud cover."


Astronaut Scott Kelly had the best view of the storm in the International Space Station. (He gets the best view of everything, lucky guy.)


Suomi NPP grabbed this shot on Sunday, January 24, after the skies cleared. Keep in mind: This is a photo of millions of people digging out their cars.


Here's a zoomed-in image of the Washington, DC, area, captured by NASA's Operational Land Imager. The body of water in the image is the Chesapeake Bay.


And here's a close-up of the capital of the United States of America, covered in snow.