NASA Disasters Highlights week of March 11, 2019

MODIS Helps Researchers Track Midwest "Bomb Cyclone" Storm System

Natural-color mosaic image acquired by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites on March 13th, 2019. Credit: NASA Earth Observatory

Natural-color mosaic image acquired by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites on March 13th, 2019. Credit: NASA Earth Observatory

March 15th, 2019: With the first day of spring less than one week away, a severe late-winter storm brewed across the middle of the United States. Blizzard conditions struck the Central and Northern Plains, while thunderstorms and flooding threatened the Lower Mississippi, Tennessee, and Ohio Valleys. The storm’s intensity grew due to a rapid drop in atmospheric pressure that in some places reached record lows. 

MODIS data are used to revise or confirm 24-hour forecasts related to weather systems, which in turn gives confidence for flood warnings. Satellite images are also useful in providing everyone with the same 'big picture' of severe storms.

The NASA Disasters Program has activated Tier 1 response in support of flooding in the midwest. Rivers have reached historic water levels in 41 locations across the Midwest. This devastating flooding has killed at least three people, forced evacuations in multiple states, breached dams and levees, destroyed roads and bridges, damaged thousands of homes and flooded portions of Offutt Air Force Base. Floodwaters are also threatening a nuclear power plant, and forced the evacuation of a National Weather Service Office on Friday.


Suomi NPP VIIRS Tracks Location and Spread of Fires in Victoria, Australia to Aid Firefighters

This NOAA/NASA Suomi NPP satellite image was collected on March 15, 2019. Actively burning fires, detected by thermal bands, are shown as red points. Image Credit: NASA Worldview, Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS)

This NOAA/NASA Suomi NPP satellite image was collected on March 15, 2019. Actively burning fires, detected by thermal bands, are shown as red points. Image Credit: NASA Worldview, Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS)

March 15th, 2019: The Vic Emergency site is still reporting 53 ongoing fire incidents in Victoria, Australia which is down from the 100 incidents that were being tracked on March 7, 2019.  Some of these fires, however, are still out of control. The area of Hume located to the northwest of the area creating the most smoke (the area in which the above bushfires are burning) is under an air advisory.  The air quality in Hume, a suburb of Canberra, is designated as poor.  In addition, this air advisory includes Seymour, Shepparton, Wangaratta, Bright and Mansfield.  The air quality is deemed unhealthy for everyone.

NRT MODIS and VIIRS data and imagery enable people on the ground, including those responsible for mobilizing fire-fighting resources around the world, detailed information about the locations of fires. These data are provided to responders in near-realtime, which allows firefighter to more effectively deploy their resources. NRT MODIS and VIIRS fire data are available in easy to use formats through the Fire Information for Resource Management System (FIRMS).

NASA's Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS) Worldview application provides the capability to interactively browse over 700 global, full-resolution satellite imagery layers and then download the underlying data. Many of the available imagery layers are updated within three hours of observation, essentially showing the entire Earth as it looks "right now.”


GPM Measures Precipitation in Destructive Cyclone Idai in Mozambique to Predict Potential Floods and Landslides

GPM precipitation rates from Cyclone Idai overpass on 3/11/19. Image Credit: Jacob Reed / NASA GSFC

GPM precipitation rates from Cyclone Idai overpass on 3/11/19. Image Credit: Jacob Reed / NASA GSFC

March 13th, 2019: Intense Tropical Cyclone Idai started as a tropical depression on the 4th of March, 2019, off the coast of Mozambique. After making landfall over Mozambique it turned back over the Mozambique Channel and strengthened to become a tropical cyclone on the 10th of March. The GPM satellite captured the cyclone with both the GPM Microwave Imager (GMI) and the Dual-frequency Precipitation Radar (DPR) on the 11th of March at 04:36 UTC when the storm was in the middle on the Mozambique Channel. The DPR captured a well-developed eye, seen at the center of the image.

Precipitation data from the Global Precipitation Measurement mission is used by disaster researchers to model and predict the occurence of landslide and flood hazards on the ground. GPM data is also fed into Numerical Weather Predication models to improve the accuracy and precision of storm track predications and provide people on the ground with advanced warning of impending hazards.

The NASA Disasters Program has activated Tier 1 Response in support of Cyclone Idai in Mozambique. Cyclone Idai made landfall on the coast of Mozambique late on the night of March 14, 2019, bringing torrential rains, high winds, and storm surge to the area. Officials report that over 215 people have been killed so far by the effects of this storm, but the expected death toll is over 1,000. Flooding and storm damage have isolated many cities and villages, making it difficult for responders to reach the impacted areas and fully understand the impacts of the storm.