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Hurricane Rita Floods U.S. Gulf Coast

Hurricane Rita Floods U.S. Gulf Coast

Hurricane Rita’s fifteen-foot storm surge and heavy rains caused widespread flooding along the Louisiana coastline. The storm came ashore near the Texas and Louisiana border on September 24, 2005, and the region was still flooded two days later, when the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) captured the top image. In the false-color image, water is black or dark blue where it is colored with mud. The storm burst through levees lining canals, lakes and bayous throughout southeastern and central Louisiana. Water poured into low-lying areas, leaving much of the region flooded to such a degree that the large lakes that lined the coast are no longer distinguishable from each other. Though many buildings and farms have largely been destroyed, the death toll remains low because most people evacuated before the storm struck.

As Rita moved inland, the storm’s heaviest rains fell on Louisiana. (See Hurricane Rita on the Earth Observatory for rainfall totals.) Rain-triggered flooding is obvious in the upper right corner of the image. Bare farmland formed a tan grid in the area on September 21, lower image. On September 26, standing water has turned the fields blue.

The large images provided above are at MODIS’ maximum resolution of 250 meters per pixel. The MODIS Rapid Response Team provides daily images of the region in a variety of resolutions.

NASA images courtesy the MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC.