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Posted on November 2nd, 2021

Our Changing Landscape – Hurricane Ida’s Landfall

In this monthly feature, we span the globe to examine Our Changing Landscape with a time series of medium-resolution PlanetScope satellite imagery. The PlanetScope constellation dates back to 2016 and collects hundreds of millions of square kilometers of 4, 5 and 8-band 3-meter imagery daily! In October we checked out a massive wildfire in California, and for this edition of Our Changing Landscape we look at another disaster, this one over the southeast of the United States, Hurricane Ida.

The PlanetScope Microsat Constellation

Click on the image above to see an animation of 3-meter natural color PlanetScope imagery collected over Port Fourchon, Louisiana, USA on August 21 and September 11, 2021. When you check out these images, one pre-Hurricane Ida landfall and the other post-landfall, you see two distinct stories. First, in the areas with vegetation and shoreline, it is impossible to determine the extent of damage caused by Ida – this is perhaps due to a lack of significant damage, which seems unlikely. More likely is that the vegetated areas are significantly darker than the areas with human development making it hard to see into the darker regions when the image is properly balanced for the developed areas. The second story we see in these two 3-meter PlanetScope images is the significant amount of damage to human-made structures in Port Fourchon – including the complete destruction of buildings as well as significant damage to the larger buildings that remain. Our hearts go out to all those in the South and Northeast who were impacted by Hurricane Ida. (Images Courtesy: © Planet 2021)

PlanetScope is a constellation of more than 150 microsats referred to individually as Doves. Each Dove is able to collect up to 20,000 square kilometers (sq km) per day of 3-meter (m) 4-band multispectral (i.e. blue, green, red and near-infrared [NIR]) imagery; and newly launched SuperDoves collect 8-band multispectral adding in valuable red-edge spectral data. Across the constellation, PlanetScope is archiving more than 200 million sq km of medium-resolution imagery a day, making it the go to source for daily imagery over most locations. This massive archive dates back to 2016, offering the most complete and continuous record of spatial data on the planet since the start of the constellation’s ongoing launch schedule. Collecting 3-meter multispectral imagery is the equivalent of ‘high-resolution’ multispectral data imaged by a 75-centimer (cm) satellite (as this satellite would feature 75-cm panchromatic and 3-m multispectral), making PlanetScope an extremely competitively priced option at just $1.80 per sq km. With well registered images and nearly daily collections of most locations, PlanetScope is the ideal imagery source for this current-events focused series, Our Changing Landscape.

Hurricane Ida Makes Land Fall Over Port Fourchon, Louisiana

As was at the root of last month’s article, human-fueled global climate change is also at the root of this story as increased global temperatures warm the oceans which works synergistically to increase wind speeds and precipitation amounts, as well as the overall frequency of hurricanes forming in the Atlantic Ocean. This season in the Atlantic is on track to be at least the third most active in recorded history with 19 systems already named and three more looming in the horizon.

Hurricane Ida formed in the Caribbean Sea on August 26, 2021, reaching hurricane status the next day as well as making landfall over western Cuba. From there, it strengthened to a Category 4 storm in the Gulf of Mexico before it made landfall over Port Fourchon, Louisiana in the United States on August 29th. Hurricane Ida made landfall with maximum sustained winds of 150 miles per hour (mph) – making it the 5th strongest to make landfall over the USA. Ida continued to wreak havoc over the southeast and East Coast until September 2nd when it’s winds finally dropped below 40 mph, leaving in its wake at least 82 dead and $95 billion in damage. Now it is time to turn to the 3-meter PlanetScope archive to get a sense of the destruction left behind when Ida made landfall over Port Fourchon.

If you would like to find out more about using 3-meter PlanetScope imagery for your academic studies, engineering projects or any landscape analysis, let us know at or (303) 993-3863.

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