Colorado’s record-setting floods devastated the landscape from the mountains to the plains. From their perch thousands of miles above the Earth’s surface, NASA’s and DigitalGlobe’s satellites captured astonishing imagery of the devastation.
Over a seven day span, heavy rain fell in Colorado’s Front Range foothills and along the adjacent lower elevations. Some locations measured as much rain over the period as they normally record in an entire year.
Rivers and streams were unable to cope with the extraordinary amount of water and quickly swelled and overran their banks. As many as 1,500 homes were destroyed and to date at least eight people have been confirmed killed. Risk modeling firm Eqecat estimates that damage costs will exceed $2 billion.
Satellite imagery released by NASA’s Earth Observatory showcases the landscape before and after the floods hit.
One set of images captured by its Landsat 8 satellite shows the area near Greeley and the South Platte River waters stretching far beyond its normal banks. A second set of images from the agency’s Aqua satellite uses infrared to contrast the normally slow-moving waters of the river with the increasing volume as the waters worked their way to the northeast.
Private satellite imagery firm DigitalGlobe is based in Longmont, Colorado, one of the communities hardest hit by the floods. The company activated its FirstLook protocols and trained its satellite’s eyes on the flooding to provide important aerial views of the waters to first responders.
The collection of imagery shows the flood waters and their devastating effects in stunning clarity. Bridges and entire portions of highways are clearly seen destroyed and areas surrounding rivers are shown inundated with floodwaters.