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Spring Floods in the U.S. Midwest and Canada
This page contains archived content and is no longer being updated. At the time of publication, it represented the best available science. However, more recent observations and studies may have rendered some content obsolete.
After the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers breached a levee to save the city of Cairo, Illinois, on May 2, 2011, agricultural fields remained flooded two days later. The levee breach flooded roughly 130,000 acres of nearby farmland in the Birds Point-New Madrid Floodway.
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured these images of the area on May 4, 2011 (top), April 29, 2011 (middle), and April 29, 2010 (bottom). All three images use a combination of visible and infrared light to increase contrast between water and land. Water ranges in color from electric blue to navy. Vegetation is green. Bare ground is earth-toned.
The most striking difference between May 4 and April 29, 2011, is the inundation of the Birds Point-New Madrid Floodway. Both scenes, however, show severe flood conditions along the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. The image from 2010 shows the rivers under more normal circumstances.