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What that mega blizzard looks like from space

Several states have declared a state of emergency, with New York City Mayor issuing a travel ban at noon Saturday.

NASA’s satellite images show the remarkable scale of the East Coast blizzard dubbed Jonas.

Astronaut Scott Kelly tweeted images of the blizzard blanketing the eastern US, Saturday morning, reminding followers that the snowstorm was still several hours off.

Kelly’s posted several pictures that reveal a massive cluster of clouds blocking out much of the east coast, followed by a picture of thunderstorm from space revealing how the blizzard moved closer to areas that are likely to receive thundersnow.

Thundersnows are considered a rare phenomenon, and are generally expected to occur in mountain areas, because snow requires a cold environment, adequate moisture to form clouds, and rising air, according to experts.

Thundersnow occurs when a thunderstorm produces snow instead of rain, with heavy snow usually falling at a high rate. Thunder and lightning that occurs during snowstorms is not similar to what happens during summer storms. During  snowstorms, “Precipitation in the clouds is usually formed below 20,000 feet. Upward and downward motions in ordinary snowstorms are rather gentle. The exception is lake-effect snow, where the clouds are created by heating of air moving over relatively warm lakes. Lake-effect snowstorms have narrow clouds shaped more like ordinary thunderstorms, and actually sometimes develop thunder and lightning,” according to the Weather Channel.  

The Scientific American reports that when “lightning is observed during a snowstorm, there is an 86 percent chance that at least six inches (15 centimeters) of snow will fall within 70 miles (113 kilometers) of the flash.

Meanwhile, on Saturday the East Coast blizzard was still causing havoc for some 80 million people in the US. 

At least 12 people have been killed across Maryland, North Carolina, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Most deaths were caused by car crashes in icy conditions, the Associated Press reported.  Eleven states including New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and Washington have declared a state of emergency

By Saturday morning Washington, D.C. had received at least 16 inches of snow, while between 14 and 34 inches were reported across the coast, while seven locations near Washington exceeded 30 inches as of 2 p.m., according to the Associated Press. forecasters increased their snow predictions for New York and points north. The new estimates were for heavy snow nearly all the way to Boston, forecaster Patrick Burke said from at the weather service's Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland.

New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio issued a travel ban at noon, limiting vehicular traffic to emergency vehicles and city contractors, and said that all Long Island Railroad and Metro-North trains would be suspended by 4p.m., according to the AP.

Airlines have cancelled over 9,000 flights for Friday, Saturday and Sunday, according to FlightAware.com

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