Chesapeake Bay in Winter

February 10, 2003


Provided by: Earth Observatory, NASA GSFC
Summary authors & editors: Earth Observatory; Jim Foster

The above image of the Chesapeake Bay area was taken from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite on January 24, 2003. The day before, a winter storm dumped about 5 inches (12 cm) of snow across parts of Southern Maryland and the Delmarva Peninsula, and 1 to 2 inches (2-5 cm) fell over the Baltimore-Washington area. The darker brown tones indicate snow free ground. This was the coldest January in Washington D.C. since 1994, and as can be seen on the image, ice was quite extensive in the northern Chesapeake Bay, along Maryland and Virginia's eastern shore in the central part of the Bay, and in eastern Delaware Bay as well. Thick ice in the south-central Chesapeake Bay locked-in already isolated communities on Smith and Tangier Islands (opposite the mouth of the Potomac River - bottom of image). Coast Guard cutters were needed to break the ice, allowing fuel and food supplies to be brought to these sparsely populated islands. Although more ice has formed in the Chesapeake this year than in recent years, the icing conditions haven't been near as severe as in 1977, when upwards of 75% of the Bay was ice covered.

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