Identifying Snow in Satellite Images

Visible satellite images show the light that has reflected from the earth to the satellite. With no enhancement, the satellite image looks like what you would see, should you be floating above the earth.

I pulled some GOES images this morning from over the Albuquerque area. There is a slight problem- snow and clouds both reflect white, and sometimes it is hard to tell which is snow and which is clouds.

At first glance, motion can help a little bit:

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However, motion is not enough. For example, the snow that exist in New Mexico is likely on the tops of mountains. If there is wind blowing over the mountains, there can be a stationary cloud (these often form lenticular clouds) that can hang out above the mountain. In comparison to the other cloud cover, it may appear stationary, and thus would look like snow (based on motion) but could be a cloud.

As I play with some of the other satellite imagery, I will explain more about how to tell the difference between snow and cloud cover. As it stands now- if it moves away, it is likely not snow.

Stay tuned, and I hope you enjoyed my post!

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About highplainschasing

This blog is about my tales in storm chasing. My name is Seth Price and I am an instrumentation instructor at New Mexico Tech. My amateur radio call sign is N3MRA.
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1 Response to Identifying Snow in Satellite Images

  1. wildcard says:

    A very important, but sometimes quite difficult distinction when looking at satellite.

    Like

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