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Shocking Satellite Photos Show Caribbean Islands Stripped Of Vegetation By Hurricane Irma

Shocking satellite imagery from NASA satellites taken before and after Hurricane Irma reveal several Caribbean islands left devastated by the Category 5 storm, which saw sustained winds up to 185 MPH:

NASA: download large image (6 MB, JPEG, 11117×7664) /  download large image (5 MB, JPEG, 11117×7664)

Via NASA: 

These natural-color images, captured by the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on the Landsat 8 satellite, show some of Irma’s effect on the British and U.S. Virgin Islands. The views were acquired on August 25 and September 10, 2017, before and after the storm passed. They are among the few relatively cloud-free satellite images of the area so far.

The most obvious change is the widespread browning of the landscape. There are a number of possible reasons for this. Lush green tropical vegetation can be ripped away by a storm’s strong winds, leaving the satellite with a view of more bare ground. Also, salt spray whipped up by the hurricane can coat and desiccate leaves while they are still on the trees.

Images taken before and after from the ground reveal the extent of the devastation: 

Virgin Gorda

Barbuda and Antigua


The destruction is also clearly visible on Barbuda. This small island in the eastern Caribbean was directly hit by the category-5 storm early on September 6. These images were acquired by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites. The left image shows Barbuda on August 21, 2017. The right image shows the ravaged landscape on September 8.

In contrast, vegetation on Antigua appears relatively healthy and intact. With the storm’s center passing to the north, the island sustained less damage. Ground reports noted that by September 7, electricity had been restored to most of the island, and the international airport reopened.

After wreaking havoc on the Bahamas, the 650 mile wide hurricane bled off much of its energy after scraping across Cuba – slowing it down to a Category 4 by the time it swept across the Florida Keys, and reaching Category 3 by the time it struck Marco island just south of Naples, FL.

Irma rolled past Tampa as a Category 1 early Monday, having caused widespread flooding, power outages, and structural damage affecting at least nine states from eastern Mississippi to the Carolinas.

The combined damage from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma could top $290 billion according to AccuWeather President Joel Meyers. “We believe the damage estimate from Irma to be about $100 billion — among the costliest hurricanes of all time. This amounts to 0.5 of a percentage point of the GDP of $19 trillion,” Myers said. “We estimated that Hurricane Harvey is to be the costliest weather disaster in U.S. history, at $190 billion, or 1 full percentage point of the GDP.”

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One comment

  1. sarcrilege

    And just like that. In less than a week, it will be green again.

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