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Hurricane Irma transforms Caribbean islands

With acknowledgements to the Huffington Post:

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/hurricane-irma-change-caribbean-island-look-before-and-after-photos_uk_59b797a8e4b027c149e1f145?%20UK%20091217

“Hurricane Irma has been making headlines as the storm moved north from the Caribbean towards mainland USA last week, leaving behind a trail of destruction and months of rebuilding for residents.

On the ground the situation looks devastating, but now footage obtained by NASA’s Earth Observatory has shown that even from miles above the earth, mother nature has certainly left her mark. Photographs taken by the space agency’s Operational Land Imager on the 25 August, before Irma hit, and 10 September (four days after she passed over the British Virgin Islands) show how the storm has transformed the landscape.

With the clouds clearing for the first time since the storm, NASA were able to capture the satellite images of the chain of islands, including Antigua, Barbuda, St Thomas, St John, Tortola and Virgin Gorda.

From initial observations it is apparent that the most obvious change is widespread browning of the landscape, which could be caused by a number of possible things.

The most likely reason is that the sustained winds of 185 miles per hour ripped away the lush green tropical vegetation, leaving just a view of the bare ground instead of rainforest canopy.

Alternatively, it could be that salt spray dragged up from the Atlantic and deposited on land by high winds had coated and desiccated leaves while they remain on the trees.

Images of Virgin Gorda gives a better sense of the changes that have taken place, because of the scale of the island.

 

 

The cited article also shows other, similar, before and after pictures of some of the other islands that were hit by the hurricane, such as Barbuda, whereas Antigua, which did not get a direct hit, can be seen to be greener.