Mid-Atlantic Has a White St. Patrick's Day (Video)

mid-atlantic snowstorm
NOAA's GOES satellite captured the progression of another major winter storm over the U.S. Mid-Atlantic on March 16 and 17. (Image credit: YouTube screenshot, NASA/NOAA GOES Project, Dennis Chesters)

Instead of wearing green for St. Patrick's Day, the Mid-Atlantic wore a coat of snow white. A late winter snowstorm, captured in a new NASA video, brought between 6 and 12 inches (15-30 centimeters) of snow to areas spanning from Baltimore, Md., to Richmond, Va.

The National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration's GOES-East satellite captured the path of the storm, which swept in the evening of March 16 and continued through St. Patrick's Day, March 17. The NASA/NOAA GOES Project at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., compiled imagery taken March 15-17 to create the video.

More than 7 inches (18 cm) of snow fell in Washington, D.C., making it the third biggest snow so late in the season on record, according to The Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang blog. Reagan National Airport in Virginia (Washington, D.C.'s official weather station) got 7.2 inches (18.3 cm) of snow in this storm. The only times the city has gotten more snow so late in the year since records began in 1888 were March 28-29, 1942 and March 27-28, 1891. [The 10 Worst Blizzards in US History]

The National Weather Service issued a Winter Storm Warning for areas including Cecil County to Frederick County, Md., that was still in place as of 1 p.m. EDT March 17. The warning also spanned the Virginia counties of Clarke, Warren, Raphahannock, Madison and Albemarle. Counties south of Fredericksburg, Va., were under a Winter Weather Advisory.

The GOES-East satellite orbits the Earth at a fixed position, capturing visible and infrared imagery over the eastern United States and Atlantic Ocean.

To make the video, NASA/NOAA's GOES Project overlaid cloud data from GOES-East on a true-color image taken by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument aboard NASA's Aqua and Terra satellites.

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Tanya Lewis
Staff Writer
Tanya was a staff writer for Live Science from 2013 to 2015, covering a wide array of topics, ranging from neuroscience to robotics to strange/cute animals. She received a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a bachelor of science in biomedical engineering from Brown University. She has previously written for Science News, Wired, The Santa Cruz Sentinel, the radio show Big Picture Science and other places. Tanya has lived on a tropical island, witnessed volcanic eruptions and flown in zero gravity (without losing her lunch!). To find out what her latest project is, you can visit her website.