The Gulf Coast (before flooding)

The Gulf Coast (before flooding)
  • Credit:

    Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC

Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast of the United States. In the two days following the storm, August 30 and August 31, 2005, extensive flooding was visible across Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. The most severe flooding occurred in New Orleans, along the southern shores of Lake Pontchartrain just left of the center of the image. As much as 80 percent of the city was under water after broken levies let water pour into the city from Lake Pontchartrain.

On Saturday, August 27, 2005, New Orleans formed a tan and green grid sandwiched between the lake shore and the river. Three days later, dark pools of water covered the eastern half of the city, and a large section of Lake Pontchartrain ballooned into the region immediately west of the city. Widespread flooding is visible elsewhere in the top image. Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Maurepas have nearly blended into a single body of water, separated only by a narrow strip of land. Dark smudges line the rivers flowing into both lakes, a sign that water covers the ground around them.

Hurricane Katrina’s powerful storm surge combined with heavy rains to cause widespread flooding along the coast to the east of New Orleans. Flooding is evident in all of the rivers flowing into the Gulf. The most obviously flooded river is the Pascagoula River in Mississippi, the mouth of which now resembles a wide bay. The river itself was too small to be visible against an even field of green on August 27. Three days later, it cut a wide track across the top of the “bay.” Flooding is also evident along the Mobile and Tensaw Rivers, which flow into Mobile Bay from the north.

The images are shown in false color to make water visible against the land. Water is black or dark blue where it is colored with mud, vegetation is bright green, and clouds are light blue and white.

Images & Animations


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  • Data Date:

    August 27, 2005
  • Visualization Date:

    August 30, 2005
  • Sensor(s):

    Aqua - MODIS
NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration