Posted on July 13th, 2022

Our Changing Landscape – The Seminole Tornado

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 June we looked at the damage caused by a smaller wildfire in Tennessee, and for this edition of Our Changing Landscape we check out the damage left behind by a powerful tornado that struck Seminole, Oklahoma on May 5, 2022.

The PlanetScope Microsat Constellation

Click on the image above to see an animation of 3-meter natural color PlanetScope imagery collected over Seminole, Oklahoma and the surrounding region on April 26 and May 6, 2022. If you squint and zoom in on the animation over downtown Seminole, you can detect a small amount of damage – particularly some roof damage – but admittedly it is very hard to detect. And to be fair, the only way we found the damage was having prior knowledge of where to look. So unfortunately (but fortunately for the people living in Seminole), the damage caused by the May 5th tornado is nearly impossible to detect with 3-meter PlanetScope imagery. (Images Courtesy: © Planet 2022)

PlanetScope is a constellation of more than 240 microsats (as of January 2022) 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.

The 2022 Seminole, Oklahoma Tornado


Seminole, Oklahoma is a small town of about 7,500 residents located near the center of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma and roughly 50 miles (80 kilometers) southeast of Oklahoma City. On May 5th, a power thunderstorm rolled across multiple Plains states spurring a series of tornadoes. At about 7PM local time, one of these tornadoes touched down in the city of Seminole, only to be followed by a second tornado a few hours later – and oh did we mention the town was also struck by a tornado on Monday?! The tornado that hit around 7PM in Seminole left behind EF2 damage – which would mean windspeeds between 111 and 135 miles per hour (mph). Thankfully it appears no one was killed during the series of tornadoes that struck Seminole, though major damage was done to its downtown corridor. So now it is time to turn to the 3-meter PlanetScope archive to assess the extent of the damage caused by the Wednesday night tornado in Seminole.

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 [email protected] or (303) 993-3863.

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