WATCH: Heavy flooding stretching from Indiana to Mississippi, as seen in satellite imagery

By Tom Yulsman | March 1, 2018 1:47 pm
Before and after satellite images reveal extensive flooding

A before-and-after animation of satellite images reveals the extent of flooding along rivers in the southern United States in late February of 2018. (Images: NASA Earth Observatory. Animation: Tom Yulsman)

As February was drawing to a close, heavy rains and melting snow led to extensive flooding in the central and southern United States that was easily visible to orbiting satellites.


The red box shows the area covered by the large animation of images above. (Image source: NASA Earth Observatory)

The before-and-after animation above is a noteworthy example. The river running from top to bottom is the Mississippi, with Arkansa to the left and Tennessee to the right. Small portions of Missouri, Kentucky and Mississippi are visible as well. Click on the thumbnail at right to see the area covered by the image.

The before image was acquired on February 17, 2017 by NASA’s Aqua satellite. The very heavy rains that came in late-February of this year led to the flooding that’s clearly evident in the the second image, captured by the Terra satellite, Aqua’s twin, on February 26, 2018. To clearly discern the flooding, the images are false color, employing a combination of visible and shortwave infrared light.

The heavy rainfall and flooding extended far upstream. As described by NASA’s Earth Observatory:

At the head of the Ohio River in Pittsburgh, new storms drenched an area that has already seen plenty of rain this winter, according to news reports. In Cincinnati, the river reached 2.6 meters (8.53 feet) above flood stage—the highest in since 1997.

Here’s another remote sensing view, showing the extent of the flooding from Indiana down into Arkansas and Mississippi:

Before and after satellite images reveal extensive flooding

Before and after images acquired by a satellite. (Source: GOES-16 Loop of the Day, RAMMB/CIRA)

This animation consists of images from the GOES-16 weather satellite. The pre-flooding image is from January 28 of this year. The second one was captured on February 26th.

  • Charlotte Copp

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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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