Jonas Packs a Winter Punch

Winter storm Jonas

Image courtesy of NASA

Jonas Packs a Winter Punch

| published January 21, 2016 |

By Thursday Review staff


Winter may have been delayed getting here, but its arrival this week will pack a wallop.

Weather forecasters are anticipating an epic, record-breaking snowstorm to move across much of the East Coast over the next few days. The storm—named Winter Storm Jonas—has gained much its size and strength over the plains and Midwest, drawing in super-cold air from the frigid arctic regions and collecting moisture along its wide path, an area which may include all or some of 15 states.

In all, federal officials estimate that some 80 million people will be affected by the massive storm.

Most at risk starting Friday and Saturday: the central Eastern metro areas like Washington, D.C., Baltimore, MD., Philadelphia, PA., Richmond, VA., Raleigh-Durham, N.C. Also at risk: Atlanta, GA., where occasional ice storms and surface ice in recent years have shut down major roads and gridlocked the interstate highways, spawning immense, frozen traffic jams stretching for miles.

Washington has already had more than a taste of winter’s wrath this week when an inch of snow mixed with ice, triggering massive traffic jams near the start of rush hour. The snow came as an apparent surprise to metro authorities, and that one inch of dusting and ice was enough on untreated roads to spur scores of accidents, bringing chaos and gridlock to tens of thousands of commuters. Aerial photos and skycam images show traffic backed up in some places for miles, with the worst conditions on limited access roads and bridges near Reagan National Airport.

In fact, there were more than 200 accidents reported across a wide tract of places surrounding the nation’s capital, including in Bethesda and Rockville, Maryland, and in Alexandria and near Springfield, Virginia.

Meteorologists worry that the D.C. area will be hit again—even harder—by this weekend.

The NASA photograph above—taken late on Wednesday—was captured using the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) imaging system aboard the Suomi NPP satellite. Note the astounding size of the superstorm: its northernmost outer bands extend well north of the Great Lakes, and its southernmost bands reach deep into the Deep South. The image also clearly shows bands of moisture being drawn in along several lines from the south.

Related Thursday Review articles:

Space Station View: The Nile at Night; Thursday Review staff; Thursday Review; October 5, 2015.

Joaquin Seen From Space; Thursday Review staff; Thursday Review; October 2, 2015.