Earth Resources Observation and Science Center

Missouri River Flooding

Heavy snowfall and frigid temperatures in the Midwestern United States were followed by a late winter storm in mid-March of 2019. The combined effect produced heavy flooding along the Missouri River and its tributaries throughout Nebraska and Iowa.

The Landsat and Sentinel satellites, whose data is housed at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center near Sioux Falls, SD, each captured clear views of the flooding on March 16, 2019.

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after
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The first pair of images, from the USGS/NASA Landsat satellite, show a stretch of the Missouri, Platte, and Elkhorn Rivers in a full scene that stretches from just north of Sioux City, IA, to south of Omaha, NE. The first image comes from March of 2018 and shows the rivers at normal levels. The second scene highlights the extent of flooding along all three rivers and the cities built along them.

before
after
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The second image pair features imagery from the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-2B satellite. It offers a view slightly further south and highlights the swollen banks of the Nishnabotna River, which flows into the Missouri from east and west branches in Iowa.

 

before
after
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The Missouri River experienced severe flooding in 2011, but the recent flooding has been more extensive. The third set of images compares the summer of 2011 to the current flooding around the Omaha area, using data from Landsat 5 and Landsat 8. Green vegetation is pronounced in the summer scene, which was captured amid a long-term flood event spurred by Rocky Mountain snowpack and high rainfall totals. The floodwaters appear tan in the earlier image, whereas waters in the recent scene appear dark, spread across uncropped fields. The 2019 scene also shows how flooding impacted the Missouri River’s tributaries.

Satellite imagery archived by USGS EROS is available to download at no cost through earthexplorer.usgs.gov, landsatlook.usgs.gov, and glovis.usgs.gov.

Contacts

Janice Nelson

Communications and Outreach Manager
Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center
Phone: 605-594-6173