Illinois Tornado Track Observed by Landsat-8

On April 9, 2015 a powerful storm system moved through the Midwest, producing numerous severe thunderstorms and reports of damaging wind, large hail, and tornadoes. One of these thunderstorms produced a long-track tornado that moved through north central Illinois. The National Weather Service in Chicago has assigned a preliminary EF-4 rating to this tornado.

Landsat-8 Panchromatic Band at 15 m resolution showing portion of the EF-4 tornado track northwest of Rochelle, Ill.

Landsat-8 Panchromatic Band at 15 m resolution showing a portion of the EF-4 tornado track northwest of Rochelle, Ill. Image acquired on April 10, 2015.

NASA SPoRT has established a collaboration with the USGS, National Weather Service, and NASA Applied Sciences: Disasters Program to provide Earth remote sensing imagery to supplement other data sets available during their storm damage assessments. Imagery is made available to the NOAA/NWS Damage Assessment Toolkit, a geographic information system (GIS) application operated on mobile devices and web browsers, which aids in the collection of photos and other damage indicators collected during a survey. Satellite imagery can be helpful in some cases, helping to identify affected areas where road networks are limited, or there are other access restrictions.  Image sources include moderate spatial resolution (250-375 m) imagery from the NASA MODIS and NASA/NOAA VIIRS sensors, higher resolution (15-30 m) satellite imagery from NASA’s Landsat-7, Landsat-8, EO-1, and Terra ASTER, and fine-scale (1-4 m) imagery from commercial vendors that provide disaster support in collaboration with USGS and other federal agencies.

Landsat-8 True Color image at 30 m resolution showing a portion of the EF-4 tornado track northwest of Rochelle, Ill.

Landsat-8 True Color image at 30 m resolution showing a portion of the EF-4 tornado track northwest of Rochelle, Ill. Image acquired on April 10, 2015.

One thought on “Illinois Tornado Track Observed by Landsat-8

  1. Great work! It is interesting that the track is well defined despite the lack of trees, growing vegetation in the affected region.

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