After Florence

Clouds have cleared and the flood impacts of Hurricane Florence can be seen clearly from space. The before and after images you see below were taken using NASA’s MODIS imager, which rides aboard the polar-orbiting Terra satellite.

At left is a view of the North and South Carolina coast taken on 18-June-2018. At right, a view of the same area taken on 18-Sep-2018. In the “after” image, you can see darker areas snaking inland from the ocean; these represent swollen rivers and freshwater flooding. Lingering clouds are depicted in white and turquoise.

Click on each image below for a larger, high-res view. Or, interact with these images on NASA's Worldview page, by clicking this link.

The Terra satellite also captured a 3D view of Hurricane Florence; if you have red-blue 3D glasses available, you’ll be able to pick out the cloud-height differences!

Hurricane Florence brought almost 3 feet of rain to North Carolina, and almost 2 feet of rain to South Carolina, setting new state records for rain from a tropical system. The old statewide records were beat by around 11 inches and 5 inches, respectively.

It is a proven fact that climate change is “supercharging” hurricanes by increasing the ocean temperatures as well as the moisture content of the atmosphere. At the same time climate change has caused sea levels to rise, and is changing atmospheric steering currents in a way that may allow them to move more slowly over land, wringing out more moisture and increasing an already-high flood threat (think Harvey in 2017 and now Florence in 2018).

If you’re interested in learning more, I encourage you to read this article in the Washington Post, written by climate scientist Eric Holthaus, who is also a visiting scholar at the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment.