GPM Scans a Snow Storm

Narration: Rob Gutro


On March 17, 2014, the GPM, or Global Precipitation Measurement mission's Core Observatory, flew over a rare late-season East Coast snow storm. This was also one of the first major snow storms observed by GPM shortly after it was launched on February 27, 2014. Shades of green to red are liquid precipitation. Cyan to purple are frozen precipitation. GPM is the first NASA satellite designed to measure the full range of light rain, heavy rain, and falling snow. Off the coasts of the Carolinas, the tops of the clouds are icy, reaching about 10 kilometers up into the atmosphere. Down at the surface heavy rains fall in the Atlantic Ocean. Farther north over West Virginia, Virginia and Maryland, the post-frontal part of the storm has much lower cloud tops, and they are composed of snow, which falls at the surface. GPM's broader spectrum of precipitation data gives scientists a better estimate of water content and a new perspective on winter storms, particularly in the middle and high latitudes. In addition to its own data gathering, the GPM Core Observatory is the reference standard for the GPM Constellation, a network of international partner satellites that detect falling rain and snow all over the globe every few hours. Here the partner satellites crisscross the globe and observe the March 17 snow storm.