Winter storms are accompanied by widespread heavy snow, strong winds that can contribute to blizzard conditions, and often a transition zone from snow to rain that may include heavy accumulations of ice contributing to an increased likelihood of long-term power outages.
Precipitation remote sensing from the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission can help to map these heavy snowfall rates along with other passive microwave instruments that contribute to the Integrated Multi-Satellite Retrievals for GPM (IMERG) product, helping to fill gaps internationally where ground based networks may be lacking. Following significant winter storms that contribute to widespread ice accumulation and power outages, unique observations from the Suomi National Polar Orbiting Partnership (S-NPP) Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) Day-Night Band can contribute to the remote sensing of changes in light emission from the surface, helpful for monitoring power outages and longer-term recovery. In addition, land surface remote sensing from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard Terra and Aqua, VIIRS from Suomi-NPP, Landsat-7 and Landsat-8, and other platforms can leverage their multispectral imaging capabilities to map the geographic extent of snow, helpful for mapping the extent and duration of snow cover on the ground.
In some scenarios, mapping snow cover and change is critical, as rapid snow melt in the spring season can contribute to additional streamflow, runoff, and flooding, particularly when combined with heavy springtime rainfalls. These imagers can also be used to map ice cover and ice jams that contribute to upstream river flooding and impacts on river transport. In these cases, other remote sensing techniques can be applied to map flood water and extent, including application of synthetic aperture radar to provide a higher resolution depiction of flood water and extent, particularly in vegetated or urban areas and regions that remain affected by cloud cover.