WATCH: Ohio snowfall seen from space

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Visible satellite imagery captured snow covering the ground from Illinois to Ohio Thursday. If you look closely, you can clearly see riverbeds and even highways that are snow free. Chief Meteorologist Eric Elwell discusses how the snow is dramatically impacting temperatures.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Several inches of snow fell over Illinois into Ohio Wednesday night into early Thursday. As clouds cleared across the Ohio Valley, NOAA's high-resolution visible weather satellite was able to capture the snow-covered ground in the Miami Valley from its vantage point of 23,000 miles high.

Storm Center 7 Chief Meteorologist Eric Elwell says visible satellite imagery is very much just like taking a picture from space. If you look closely, you can even pick out where snow-free river beds and highways are located.

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Snow in Bellefontaine, sent in by Darin Brust.

Snow in Bellefontaine, sent in by Darin Brust.

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Snow in Bellefontaine, sent in by Darin Brust.

Visible (VIS) satellite imagery and infrared (IR) imagery have different ways of detecting clouds. Visible imagery is produced by the sun's rays reflecting off of clouds. Infrared is produced by sensing the emitted radiation coming off of clouds, Elwell said.

The temperature of the cloud will determine the wavelength of radiation emitted from the cloud, he said.

Some advantages of visible imagery are that it has a higher resolution, shows cloud texture better, and can be used to get a good idea of the thickness of the cloud. It can also detect features like snow-cover and even flooded areas.

However, Elwell said because visible satellite imagery requires light to reflect off the clouds or other surfaces, it can only be used in daylight hours.

Elwell also points out how the snow on the ground can dramatically impact temperatures due to what is called the albedo effect — when bright, usually freshly fallen snow or ice reflect sunlight and energy back into space. This effect causes temperatures to be cooler.

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