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Posted on December 4th, 2018

Our Changing Landscape – The Landfall of Hurricane Michael

In this monthly feature, we span the globe to examine Our Changing Landscape with a time series of medium resolution RapidEye satellite imagery. The RapidEye archive dates back to late 2008 and already contains more than 14 billion square kilometers of data. In November, we were very seasonal with a look at fall colors in eastern Pennsylvania, and to close out 2018 we turn our attention to a recent national tragedy, i.e. the landfall of Hurricane Michael over Florida.

The RapidEye Constellation

Click on the image above to see an animation of 5-meter natural color RapidEye imagery collected over Mexico Beach, Florida, USA on May 10 and October 18, 2018. In the October 18th image you can see the massive destruction left behind by Hurricane Michael, particularly in the northwest quadrant along the coastline. To get a sense of the destruction, focus on the colored rooves in the May 10th image and then the disappearance of these rooves in the October 18th image. Even at 5-meter resolution, it is obvious that Mexico Beach felt the wrath of Hurricane Michael when it made landfall. (Images Courtesy: © Planet 2018)

RapidEye is a constellation of five 5-meter medium resolution satellites each offering five spectral bands of information. The RapidEye constellation offers daily revisits to every location on the planet with a huge footprint that is 77-km wide. The data is priced competitively with a starting cost of $1.28 per square kilometer for all five spectral bands – academics do receive discounts. RapidEye adds a fifth band, the red edge, to the ‘traditional’ multispectral set of blue, green, red and near-infrared (NIR). The additional spectral data in the red edge band allows users to extract more useful land ‘information’ than can be from traditional 4-band imagery sources. When RapidEye imagery is ordered as a Level 3A Orthorectified product, images from multiple dates are extremely well registered, making it the ideal data source for Our Changing Landscape.

Mexico Beach, Florida After the Landfall of Hurricane Michael

Hurricane Michael made its historic landfall a bit before noon local time on October 10th as the third strongest (by pressure) storm to hit the United States in recorded history – and the strongest ever in the Panhandle of Florida – with maximum sustained winds of 150 miles per hour (240 kilometers per hour). At the center of the Category 4 storm’s fury was Mexico Beach, Florida which was nearly completed demolished. As of October 28th, the death toll from Hurricane Michael stood at 45 and was likely to rise as emergency management teams reached more devastated homes. One estimate placed the damage to residential homes at $165 million from the storm with billions more lost in forestry and agriculture in the region. With all of this destruction, it will be interesting to see if 5-meter RapidEye imagery will have the resolution required to see the damage Hurricane Michael left in its path.

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

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