Floods

Overview

Floods are far and away the most common natural disaster worldwide and account for the most deaths. The deadliest disaster of the 20th century was the China floods of 1931, which by many accounts resulted in more than a million deaths.

In the United States, floods account for more deaths than any other natural disaster; resulting in more loss of life and property than other types of hazards and severe weather events. This is due to the multifaceted nature of flood events. For instance, the US Eastern and Gulf coasts are particularly vulnerable to storm surges from hurricanes, while the Northeast and North Central U.S., and some areas of the Western U.S. are more susceptible to excessive rainfall, snow/ice melt, and dam failures. In Alaska the Upper Midwest and other areas, river ice jams can also cause severe flooding.

Recent studies have highlighted how local investments in simple flood preparations often experience 70% less property damage when flooding occurred. But achieving such benefits on a global scale requires full understanding and characterizations of flood exposure. NASA’s Disasters Response Program, combined with its fleet of Earth Observing satellites, is helping scientists and decision-makers improve prediction of, preparation for, response to, and recovery from flood disasters.

Our Agency’s flood preparedness and response capabilities include satellite observations, data systems, and modeling capabilities divided into two core areas:

  1. Global Flood Prediction and Warning (weather prediction coupled with increasingly accurate satellite observations and hydrological models):
  2. Global Flood Mapping and Damage Assessment (from the observed satellite time series record of flood events, and also from modeling):
 

Latest Updates

June 22, 2017
SAR map for 2017 Uruguay Flooding. Credit: Batuhan Osmanoglu (GSFC) and Rashied (JPL).
On May 24, 2017, a series of extreme rainfall events began impacting the west and northwest regions or Uruguay. These rains caused severe flooding in the Departments of Salto, Paysandú and Artigas.  SAR floods maps. The dates and locations depicted in these images are as follows: Upper left: Salto - 6/14/2017 Upper Right: Itaqui - 6/9/2017 Lower Left: Colón - 6/14/2017 Lower Right: closeup for Itaqui - 6/9/2017
June 16, 2017
Flood detection / intensity map for Uruguay from the GFMS
On May 24, 2017, a series of extreme rainfall events began impacting the west and northwest regions or Uruguay. These rains caused severe flooding in the Departments of Salto, Paysandú and Artigas. 
June 10, 2017
SNPP/VIIRS Automatic flood detection may in Uruguay from May 27 - June 10 2017
On May 24, 2017, a series of extreme rainfall events began impacting the west and northwest regions or Uruguay. These rains caused severe flooding in the Departments of Salto, Paysandú and Artigas.
May 9, 2017
Landsat 7 image of flooding near near St. Peters, Missouri on May 9th, 2017.
Landsat 7 image of flooding near near St. Peters, Missouri on May 9th, 2017. Landsat 8 image showing the same area on April 28, 2016 for comparison. In late April and early May 2017, heavy rains in the Midwest gave way to rising rivers and flooding. These false-color images from Landsat satellites show one affected area near St. Peters, Missouri,...
May 9, 2017
GPM IMERG 7 day rainfall accumulation ending on May 7th, 2017 for the Quebec region.
GPM IMERG 7 day rainfall accumulation ending on May 7th, 2017 for the Quebec region. 1-, 3- and 7-day accumulations are available as shapefile and GeoTIFF files for the affected areas: https://pmm.nasa.gov/precip-apps Time series of the affected areas are available through NASA Giovanni: https://giovanni.sci.gsfc.nasa.gov/giovanni/  

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