Landsat Before, After Images Show Flooding in Carolinas From Florence

Release Date:

To learn more about USGS’ role providing science to decision makers before, during and after Hurricane Florence, visit the USGS Hurricane Florence page at https://www.usgs.gov/florence.

The U.S. Geological Survey has released new Landsat satellite images that show some of the flooding Hurricane Florence’s historic rains caused across the Carolinas.

Preliminary USGS data indicates that Florence’s heavy rains resulted in 19 new water level records on rivers and streams in North Carolina and 11 in South Carolina. Dozens of USGS specialists have been in the field in the Carolinas documenting the extent of the flooding and are expected to continue this work for weeks. The information they are collecting will help to fine tune flood forecasts for future storms and will be used by various federal and state agencies for flood response and planning.

While most of the rivers in the Carolina’s have already started slowly receding, the Waccamaw river in South Carolina just recently crested in Conway and it will likely take several days before those waters start to recede. These before and after images of Conway, taken by Landsat 8, shows the extent of the flooding September 26 when the Waccamaw River peaked there at just over 21 feet. (You can move from the “before” flooding image to the “after” image by sliding the white bar in the center of the image from right to left.) The mouth of the Waccamaw River crested the morning of September 28 and these Landsat 8 images taken September 26 of Georgetown, South Carolina, show how badly the area was already flooded as the river was still rising.

In North Carolina, Florence’s strong winds and storm surge could be felt along the coast and intense rains reached deep into the interior of the state. These Landsat 8 images of Goldsboro, North Carolina, about a hundred miles from the coastline where Florence made landfall, illustrate the intense flooding that developed when record-breaking rainfall from Florence caused the Neuse River to overtop its banks and crest at 27.6 feet September 18. These flood waters lingered above the 18-foot flood stage mark for almost a week.

Landsat is a joint effort of both USGS – run by the Earth Resources Observation and Science Center – and NASA. USGS conducts Landsat operations, and NASA develops and launches new satellites that meet science requirements. In addition to imagery of natural hazard events, Landsat provides valuable data for land use research.

To access current flood and high flow conditions, and to view the real-time USGS streamgage network of about 8,100 real-time streamgages that continuously monitor the rivers and streams across the country 24/7, visit https://waterwatch.usgs.gov/. Receive instant, customized updates about water conditions in your area via text message or email by signing up for USGS WaterAlert.

For more than 125 years, the USGS has monitored flow in selected streams and rivers across the U.S. The information is routinely used for water supply and management, monitoring floods and droughts, bridge and road design, determination of flood risk and for many recreational activities.