Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Mapping the Midwest Floods


The American Midwest is currently suffering from record levels of flooding. Heavy rains and snow melt following last week's bomb cyclone has led to unprecedented flooding in areas of Nebraska, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota.

The New York Times has used river gauge data from the United States Geological Survey to visualize river heights along the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers over the last six days. The map animates through Wednesday 13th through to Monday 18th showing the record river height levels over these six days. The NYT's Rising Waters map is an effective visualization of how quickly the height of rivers in the Midwest rose over the last week. However it doesn't actually reveal the extent of flooding in the area.


Vox has used satellite imagery to illustrate the scale of the flooding in the Midwest. In What the historic Midwest floods look like from space Vox compares two satellite images of Nebraska side-by-side. One of the images was taken in March 2018. The other was captured on March 16th this year. This side-by-side comparison clearly shows the extent of flooding along the Missouri, Platte and Elkhorn rivers around the city of Omaha.


The Washington Post has released both a map of stream gauges and before & after satellite images to illustrate the effect of the cyclone bomb on the Midwest. The Post's Satellite Images Show the Devastating Floods in the Midwest uses a static map to show all the stream gauges with levels above flood stage on March 19th. The Post has also published an animated GIF which compares two satellite images of the Missouri River. The images are from May of last year and from March 15th this year. Comparing the two images in this way reveals the extent of the swollen tributaries of the Mississippi River. The Post's article is illustrated with a number of other before and after satellite images of flooded locations in the Midwest.

USA Today has also published a series of satellite images revealing the extent of flooding in the Midwest.

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