The MODIS False Color imagery produced by SPoRT utilizes one visible and two infrared channels in order to highlight areas where these signatures differ for a particlar phenomena, in this case, snowfall over the Dakotas and eastern Montana. Prior to the storm, the MODIS False Color product shows snow free conditions in Montana, Wyoming, western South Dakota (with the exception of the Black Hills) and the panhandle of Nebraska. Following the storm, the MODIS imagery provides a clear separation of cloud cover and snow across these regions, details that may be missed if only a visible image were used, as clouds and snow both appear white. Furthermore, infrared channel imagery during the period did not provide good discrimination between snow and cloud, as the clouds were low in altitude and similar in brightness temperature to the cold land surface below.
Snowfall in this region is being monitored carefully, as widespread flooding is a concern as the region moves into the Spring season, where rapid snow melt and additional liquid precipitation are likely. Previously, MODIS False Color data have been used by the Great Falls, MT office of the National Weather Service to support hydrologic monitoring.