Clear skies gave NASA's Aqua satellite an unobstructed view of the famously cloudy Pacific Northwest from Washington to Utah on May 12.
Snow caps the peaks of the Rocky Mountains, the Cascades, and isolated mountains outside these ranges. Snow cover recedes in these mountain ranges as summer progresses, but some peaks sport ice year round, and both the Cascades and the Rockies are home to multiple glaciers.
West of the Cascades, a verdant coastal plain stretches toward the Pacific Ocean. Separating Washington and Oregon, the Columbia River meanders through the relatively arid interior and coastal plain, en route to the ocean.
To the south, the landscape of Nevada and Utah is especially arid, with north-south mountains separated by dry valleys. In the southeast, the two-toned Great Salt Lake sprawls over northern Utah, immediately east of the Great Salt Lake Desert, the source of occasional dust storms.
Red dots in the image indicate individual wildfires.
The cloud-free skies over the western United States proved short lived. Within a couple days, clouds pushed eastward from the Pacific Ocean.