Watch the lights blink out in Michael’s aftermath, as seen in before and after views from space

By Tom Yulsman | October 12, 2018 11:03 am
Imagery from the NOAA-20 satellite on Oct. 6 and 12, 2018. (Images:

Imagery from the NOAA-20 satellite on Oct. 6 and 12, 2018. (Images: University of Wisconsin SSEC. Animation: Tom Yulsman)

Hurricane Michael tore into the Florida Panhandle with winds up to 155 miles per hour, pushing up a flooding storm surge of nine to 14 feet, causing buildings to explode, and toppling countless trees.

Another impact was widespread power outages. Just how widespread is visible in the animation above. I created it using before-and-after nighttime images from the NOAA-20 satellite, one on Oct. 6 and the other on Oct. 12.

The imagery data come from the Visible-Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite instrument aboard the satellite. VIIRS includes a Day Night Band that can reveal power outages. In this case, city lights in the path of Michael blink out, from the Florida Panhandle northeastward into east-central Georgia.

VIIRS Day Night Band Visible imagery from NOAA-20 on 6 October and 12 October, 2018. (Source: CIMSS Satellite Blog)

VIIRS Day Night Band Visible imagery from NOAA-20 on 6 October and 12 October, 2018. (Source: CIMSS Satellite Blog)

Here’s a much broader view including a region as far north as Atlanta, which is at the upper edge of the image, just right of center.

If you’re wondering whether cloudiness might account for some of the dimming in Michael’s aftermath, infrared imagery from the VIIRS instrument on Oct. 12 “shows scant evidence of clouds over the region where city lights are missing,” according to the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies, source of this animation.

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  • Mike Richardson

    Reminds me of the dark areas in Southeast Louisiana and Southern Mississippi following Katrina. I was in that zone, and my deepest sympathies lie with the people of Panama City Beach and the surrounding communities. It’s my favorite vacation spot, both for the many things to there and the many friendly locals. I hope they have a swift recovery.

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ImaGeo

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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