Early Spring Floods in Indiana
acquired March 1, 2011 download large image (11 MB, JPEG, 5200x6000)
acquired March 1, 2011 download GeoTIFF file (58 MB, TIFF, 5200x6000)
Early Spring Floods in Indiana
acquired February 18, 2011 download large image (11 MB, JPEG, 5200x6000)
acquired February 18, 2011 download GeoTIFF file (60 MB, TIFF, 5200x6000)
acquired February 18 - March 1, 2011 download Google Earth file (KMZ)

Southern Indiana was in the first flush of spring on March 1, 2011, when the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite acquired the top image. Though the official start of spring was still nineteen days away, flooding and greening had already started. The lower image, taken on February 18, 2011 by the MODIS sensor on NASA’s Aqua satellite, shows late-winter conditions.

Over those 12 days, rivers swelled with melting snow and heavy rain. On February 27-28, heavy rain fell across much of the Midwest, including Indiana. The clouds cleared on March 1 to reveal widespread flooding throughout the upper Mississippi basin. In this image, the Wabash, Eel, and White Rivers are all swollen. The National Weather Service issued flood warnings for parts of the Wabash and Eel Rivers, and reported minor to moderate flooding on the other rivers in the image. Floods are visible on other rivers across the Midwest in the large image, which spans from Iowa to Ohio and from Canada to Kentucky.

If viewed in natural color, as if from an airplane, the muddy water and surrounding ground would blend together. To distinguish between water and earth, the satellite sensor uses both visible and infrared light. Water is black or dark blue in this image, and sediment-laden water or saturated ground is pale blue. Plant-covered land is green, and bare earth is tan-pink. Clouds are turquoise and white.

Not only did the changing season bring floods, but it also brought the beginning of the growing season. Land that had been bare in February was beginning to turn green in March. The bright fluorescent green spots are likely farmlands with cold-weather crops.

The floods were already subsiding by March 2, but they may be a preview of what is to come this spring. Many rivers in the Mississippi Basin flood annually, and the National Weather Service expected flooding through March as the winter’s above-normal snow melts and spring rains fall. Heavy rain and snow forecast for later this week in central Indiana could bring a fresh round of floods.

  1. References

  2. National Weather Service. (2011, March 2). Flood warning. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Accessed March 2, 2011.
  3. National Weather Service. (2011, March 1). Hydrologic outlook. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Accessed March 2, 2011.
  4. National Weather Service Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service. (2011, March 2). River observations. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Accessed March 2, 2011.
  5. Reuters. (2011, March 1). Rain and snowmelt trigger Midwest flooding. Accessed March 2, 2011.
  6. Tuohy, J. (2011, March 1). February ‘showers’ bring March floods. Indystar.com Accessed March 2, 2011.

NASA images courtesy the MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC. Caption by Holli Riebeek.

Terra - MODIS
Aqua - MODIS

Early Spring Floods in Indiana

Image Location
Image Location
More in this Event (view all)
High Waters along the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers Rising Waters on the Mississippi River Rising Waters on the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers Rising Waters on the James River Retreating Snow and Advancing Water in the Upper Midwest Receding Snow Sets Stage for Floods near Fargo Spring Flooding in the Upper Midwest Rising Rivers in the U.S. Midwest Rising Waters along the Red River Spring Floods in Saskatchewan Spring Flooding in Manitoba Heavy Rain in Central United States Flooding along the Mississippi River Continued Flooding along the Mississippi Flooding along the James River, South Dakota Flooding in Wake of Levee Breach Spring Floods in the U.S. Midwest and Canada Flooding along the Wabash and Ohio Rivers Flooding at the Junction of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers Floods Spread South along the Mississippi River High Waters along the Mississippi River Floods Continue along the Mississippi River Flooding Continues along the Red River Flooding in Memphis Flooding in Arkansas Flooding reaches Vicksburg, Mississippi Morganza Floodway, 1973 Floodwaters near Natchez Rising Waters on the Lower Mississippi Morganza Spillway Opens in Louisiana Mississippi Floods in Arkansas and Tennessee Mississippi Floods in Missouri and Tennessee Flooding near New Madrid, Missouri Water in the Morganza Floodway Morganza Floodway after Five Days of Flow Mississippi Floods near Vicksburg Sediment Plume in Lake Pontchartrain Lingering Floods along the Mississippi River Lower Mississippi River Remains Swollen Waters Spread Across Floodway above Morgan City Lay of the Land Between Old River and the Mississippi Floodwaters Recede along Wabash and Ohio Rivers Floodwaters Retreat from Birds Point-New Madrid Floodway Lingering Floods in Louisiana Morganza Floodway Lingering Floodwaters near Vicksburg, Mississippi Sediment from the Mississippi Floods Sediment in the Gulf of Mexico Floods Recede around the Wabash-Ohio Confluence