Blizzard ’09 as Seen From Space

BY Chris Amico  December 22, 2009 at 1:59 PM EST

The weekend storm that dumped more snow on Washington, DC, than the area usually sees in an entire winter was a Nor’easter, a powerful storm characterized by a strong low-pressure center that forms in the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic Ocean and moves north up the Eastern seaboard.
In the Northern Hemisphere, winds flow in toward the center of a low-pressure area in a counter-clockwise spiral, which means that as the storm heads north, the leading winds come in off the ocean from the northeast.

The record-breaking blizzard shut down the federal government and stranded travelers, leaving between 11 and 20 inches of snow on the ground throughout the metropolitan area, according to the National Weather Service.

The photo above, released by NASA’S Earth Observatory, shows just how thoroughly the Nor’easter blanketed the mid-Atlantic. Larger images are available here.