Ongoing Recovery of Joplin, Missouri as seen from Landsat-7

On Sunday, May 22, 2011, the city of Joplin, Missouri was struck by an EF-5, multiple vortex tornado that caused widespread damage and 158 fatalities, with a path reaching a mile wide as it crossed the southern part of the city.  Preliminary estimates accumulated $2.8B in damages, and the storm ranks among the most costly weather-related disasters in the United States.  In 2011, the SPoRT team used NASA’s Terra satellite to obtain imagery via the ASTER instrument in collaboration with the USGS.  The damage scar was readily apparent in ASTER false color imagery.  Since the 2011 event, the Joplin area has begun the slow recovery process.  Although many of our blog articles and disaster response activities have focused on identifying damage following an event, longer-term satellite imagery can also identify ongoing recovery.  The Landsat-7 satellite’s Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+) provides high resolution (30 m) true color imagery.  Using cloud-free imagery during May-June of the following years, the initial tornado scar is apparent, but substantial recovery has taken place.  Similar imagery will likely be available to monitor recovery of Moore, Oklahoma and other areas with ongoing support from Landsat-7 and the recently launched Landsat Data Continuity Mission (now Landsat-8).  Landsat-7 and ASTER data are provided to SPoRT via the USGS and their Earth Explorer portal.

Landsat-7 true color image over  Joplin, Missouri on May 7, 2011, representing conditions prior to the May 22, 2011 tornado.

Landsat-7 true color image over Joplin, Missouri on May 7, 2011, representing conditions prior to the May 22, 2011 tornado.

Landsat-7 imagery from June 6, 2011, shortly after the EF-5 tornado had crossed through the south side of Joplin, Missouri.

Landsat-7 imagery from June 8, 2011, shortly after the EF-5 tornado had crossed through the south side of Joplin, Missouri.

Landsat-7 true color image of Joplin, Missouri on May 9, 2012, nearly one year after the tornado occurred.  Aspects of the damage scar are still present but some recovery can be seen in comparison to the pre-storm image.

Landsat-7 true color image of Joplin, Missouri on May 9, 2012, nearly one year after the tornado occurred. Aspects of the damage scar are still present but some recovery can be seen in comparison to the pre-storm image.

 

Most recent, cloud-free view of Joplin, Missouri from Landsat-7 on June 13, 2011.  Continued recovery is shown throughout the damage swath, along with some new development evident by cleared land within the swath area.

Most recent, cloud-free view of Joplin, Missouri from Landsat-7 on June 13, 2011. Continued recovery is shown throughout the damage swath, along with some new development evident by cleared land within the swath area.  Note that some thin clouds are present over the northern half of Joplin.

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