Follow Harvey’s calamitous multi-day meander over Texas in this extraordinary animation of satellite imagery

By Tom Yulsman | August 29, 2017 9:38 am

As Harvey flooded Houston with relentless rains, the GOES-16 weather satellite watched from above

An animation of infrared imagery from the GOES-16 weather satellite shows the evolution of Harvey between Aug. 25 and 28 2017. (Source: RAMMB/CIRA)

An animation of infrared imagery from the GOES-16 weather satellite shows the evolution of Harvey between Aug. 25 and 28 2017. (Source: RAMMB/CIRA)

One of the most destructive storms in U.S. history continues to pummel southeast Texas and the nation’s fourth largest city for a fourth day, producing calamitous flooding and plunging a huge region into chaos.

Harvey’s center slowly drifted offshore into the Gulf of Mexico on Monday, resulting in the buildup of new, intense thunderstorms that are forecast to pummel Houston with yet more rain through Wednesday and possibly beyond. Harvey is expected to remain just offshore of Texas through tonight, and then begin to swirl toward Louisiana.

Rainfall totals could top an unimaginable 50 inches in some places, thanks in large measure to the slow, meandering path Harvey has taken after it stormed ashore as a Category 4 hurricane. You can watch the storm’s evolution over most of that period in the extraordinary animation from the GOES-16 weather satellite above. It consists of infrared imagery acquired between August 25th and 28th.

At the start of the animation, Harvey was still a hurricane, and its well-defined eye is clearly visible. After coming ashore it transitions into a tropical storm.

Try to keep your eyes on the center of circulation. Once ashore it stalls, spinning off massive amounts of rainfall, indicated by yellow and red colors. It then begins to move ever-so-slowly back out toward the Gulf.

Note: GOES-16 is still in its shakedown period, so the animation is based on preliminary, non-operational data. The satellite is expected to be officially operational in September.



ImaGeo is a visual blog focusing on the intersection of imagery, imagination and Earth. It focuses on spectacular visuals related to the science of our planet, with an emphasis (although not an exclusive one) on the unfolding Anthropocene Epoch.

About Tom Yulsman

Tom Yulsman is Director of the Center for Environmental Journalism and a Professor of Journalism at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He also continues to work as a science and environmental journalist with more than 30 years of experience producing content for major publications. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Audubon, Climate Central, Columbia Journalism Review, Discover, Nieman Reports, and many other publications. He has held a variety of editorial positions over the years, including a stint as editor-in-chief of Earth magazine. Yulsman has written one book: Origins: the Quest for Our Cosmic Roots, published by the Institute of Physics in 2003.


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