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Cyclone Yasi and Snowstorm America

Two huge storms batter the planet

All photos by NASA

Cyclone Yasi

Feb. 1, 2011: Cyclone Yasi continued on its path toward Queensland, Australia as it extended more than 1,000 miles over the South Pacific, battering the Solomon Islands, grazing Papua New Guinea and heading straight for the Queensland coast of Australia (lower left corner).

Sporting a well-defined eye, Yasi had maximum sustained winds of 140 miles an hour, and in a region that was just trying to come to terms with the enormous flooding of the previous month, tens of thousands of residents were evacuating ahead of the storm’s anticipated landfall late on February 2 or early February 3.

By the time it slammed into Australia, Yasi’s winds were gusting up to 186 mph.

Feb. 4, 2011: Two days after coming ashore over Queensland, Australia, Yasi was still a formidable storm. When NASA’s Aqua satellite took this image, Yasi still had the spiral shape characteristic of large tropical cyclones, even though it was well inland and sweeping over mountains and desert.

Snowstorm America

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, a historic snowstorm was crippling the United States.

Feb. 1, 2011: Heavy snow, ice, freezing rain and frigid wind battered about two thirds of the nation, making it “a winter storm of historic proportions,” according to the National Weather Service.

In this photo, the storm measured about 1,240 miles from west to east. The storm formed when cold Arctic air pushed south from Canada while moist air streamed north from the Gulf of the Mexico.

Feb 2, 2011: By now, 21 states from New Mexico to New Hampshire had received at least 5 inches of snow. Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri and Oklahoma declared states of emergency, and one in three Americans were affected by the storm. Chicago received 20.2 inches of snow, a record for February and the third biggest snowstorm ever recorded there.