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Landsat Images Show Devastation Caused by Colorado Floods

September 24, 2013  - By 0 Comments

NASA’s Earth Observatory released images illustrating the September floods in Colorado. Though water levels on the South Platte River were receding, muddy brown waters were still out of the river’s banks near Greeley, Colorado, on September 17, 2013, when the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on the Landsat 8 satellite acquired this image. At the time, the river was more than six feet above flood stage, down from more than eight feet above flood stage.

The image shows that the flood has washed away roads, including sections of U.S. Highway 34. Farmland and a few developed areas are under water. Heavy rain caused flooding across the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains starting on September 11, and much of that water made its way into the South Platte River. The river reached a record 18.79 feet in the early morning hours of September 14. The previous record crest was 11.73 feet. Flood stage is 10 feet. As the water subsides in Colorado, it is expected to swell the river downstream in Nebraska.

Image acquired June 29, 2013

Image acquired by NASA June 29, 2013

Image acquired September 17, 2013

Image acquired by NASA September 17, 2013

According to the announcement, as of September 18, floods had affected 17 counties in Colorado, leaving six people dead, 306 missing, and more than 18,000 evacuated, according to the Colorado Office of Emergency Management. Early estimates place the cost of the floods at two billion dollars. Though destructive and costly, all of the excess water may help parts of Colorado recover from drought. The rain helped refill some depleted reservoirs and recharge dry soil. However, it also damaged irrigation infrastructure, so the impact on farmers is mixed.

This article is tagged with and posted in Featured Stories, GIS News, Imagery
Eric Gakstatter

About the Author:

Eric Gakstatter has been involved in the GPS/GNSS industry for more than 20 years. For 10 years, he held several product management positions in the GPS/GNSS industry, managing the development of several medium- and high-precision GNSS products along with associated data-collection and post-processing software. Since 2000, he's been a power user of GPS/GNSS technology as well as a consultant with capital management companies; federal, state and local government agencies; and private companies on the application and/or development of GPS technology. Since 2006, he's been a contributing editor to GPS World magazine and the Geospatial Solutions website. He is the editor of Geospatial Solutions Monthly, a weekly newsletter focused on geospatial technologies. Follow Eric on Twitter at @GPSGIS_Eric.

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