Share this article

print logo

Lake Erie image from coldest month ever in Buffalo competes in hot NASA photo contest

You lived it on the ground.

The picture doesn’t look any warmer from space.

But a satellite image captured by NASA during the coldest month ever in Buffalo in February 2015 could be the hottest picture caught from space in the agency’s Tournament Earth contest.

You can vote to make that happen.

The top 32 images taken by NASA’s Earth Observatory are on display and being whittled down weekly by popular vote in the fourth-annual bracketed contest.

The tournament opened Monday and will continue week-by-week throughout the month of March.

The bracket is broken down into four sections in NASA’s Tournament Earth – event, data, art and photograph.

Dubbed, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” the image featuring the Buffalo-Niagara region is included in a gallery of images taken of the eastern United States last winter.

It’s the eighth seed of the event section of NASA’s tournament bracket and is pitted against an image of three hurricanes caught in the same camera frame over the Pacific Ocean.

The image was taken from 438 miles above the Buffalo Niagara region on Feb. 20, 2015, by Landsat 8, a U.S. Geological Survey satellite launched by NASA in 2013.

The crystal-clear satellite image shows the bright blue waters of the Niagara River emerging from a vividly white eastern end of Lake Erie that’s socked in with ice. The river’s path draws a stark outline around Grand Island and shows its path over Niagara Falls into the lower Niagara Gorge en route to a mostly ice-free Lake Ontario.

The entirety of the region – that includes the Niagara Peninsula of Ontario and the westernmost portion of Western New York – is covered in snow.

On the ground, it was one of the coldest days of the frigid month. The daytime high reached only 1 degree, with an overnight low in Buffalo of minus-8.

National Weather Service records show there was 22 inches of snow on the ground at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport.

The image isn’t Lake Erie’s only appearance in the contest.

Also up for consideration in the event section of the tournament is a satellite shot captured during the annual toxic algae bloom on the western side of the lake. The bright green plume of algae inundates the chain of Lake Erie Islands between Ohio and Canada.

email: tpignataro@buffnews.com