The One Blizzard 2016 Photo You Need To See
Winter Storm Jonas dumped record-breaking amounts of snow on the East Coast this weekend, prompting who knows how many adventurous snow day selfies and clever hashtags. Particularly if you live in or near one of the affected metro areas, your news feeds are probably full of blizzard pics from you, your friends, and your local meteorologists. Don't get me wrong, these photos are probably great — but the one photo from Winter Storm Jonas that you absolutely need to see is way more than just a pile of snow.
Astronaut Scott Kelly witnessed the East Coast's historic blizzard from above while stationed at the International Space Station. Saturday was Kelly's 302nd consecutive day in space — he's spending an entire year in space, as part of a mission that launched last March. Kelly often stays in touch with people on Earth through Reddit and Twitter, answering questions about his experience and tweeting photos with the hashtag #YearInSpace. From the space station, he has captured stunning photos of our beloved planet, including an uplifting sunrise for Blue Monday and an aerial view that put Hurricane Patricia into perspective. Over the weekend, he captured Jonas's path across the United States, demonstrating just how far-reaching the massive winter storm system actually was.
The snapshot above appears to show the northeastern United States as if you're looking at a map from Canada's point of view. In other words, as several Twitter users pointed out in reply to Kelly's tweet, the two large clusters of light near the middle of the frame represent Toronto and Montreal. The land beyond them, much of it covered with Jonas's white wintry haze, appears to be the northeastern United States.
On the ground, residents of the eastern United States from New England to Georgia felt the effects of Winter Storm Jonas. The system blanketed major metro areas, like Washington, D.C., Baltimore, and New York City with more than 30 inches of snow in some places. Kelly's own hometown of West Orange, New Jersey, received two feet of snow, according to the National Weather Service's report on Sunday morning. One part of West Virginia even measured a 40-inch accumulation. The storm also brought strong winds and worrisome flooding to coastal areas.
Kelly has had a front-row seat for some of the biggest weather-related stories of the past year. When he's not snapping photos of Earth, Kelly is studying how the human body reacts to spending an extended period of time in outer space. His year-long mission, according to NASA, is about twice as long as standard astronaut deployments, and it will provide valuable insight into the possibility of sending a team to Mars, which would take about 30 months.