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Flooding in the Northeastern United States

NASA image acquired April 3, 2010


March 2010 proved to be a record-setting month for Rhode Island. By March 30, the state had experienced record rainfall for the month of March—15 inches (38 centimeters), according to the Disaster News Network. The following day, the Pawtucket (or Pawtuxet) River crested at 20.79 feet (6.34 meters), according to the U.S. National Weather Service. Throughout the state, residents had to contend with flooded roads, flooded basements, and overwhelmed sewage systems.


On April 3, 2010, the Advanced Land Imager (ALI) on NASA’s Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite captured this natural-color image of parts of Cranston and Warwick, Rhode Island. By the time ALI took this picture, floodwaters had receded somewhat, but flooding remained along the Pawtucket River, and in other low-lying areas, such as sodden ground near I-295. The muddy blue-green color along the river likely results from mud oozing around the trunks of trees that line the waterway. The large expanses of brown in the left third of this image, however, likely result from bare ground and/or dormant vegetation more than flooding.


By April 2, 2010, more than 11,000 residents of Rhode Island and Massachusetts had applied for aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Three straight days of record-setting rain caused the worst flooding in the state in more than 200 years. Rhode Island’s governor estimated that the flooding had caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.


NASA Earth Observatory image created by Jesse Allen and Robert Simmon, using EO-1 ALI data provided courtesy of the NASA EO-1 team. Caption by Michon Scott.

Instrument: EO-1 - ALI


To learn more about this image go to: earthobservatory.nasa.gov/NaturalHazards/view.php?id=43421


NASA Goddard Space Flight Center is home to the nation's largest organization of combined scientists, engineers and technologists that build spacecraft, instruments and new technology to study the Earth, the sun, our solar system, and the universe.

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Taken on April 6, 2010