Hurricane Irma recently hit islands in the Caribbean with the force of a Category 5 storm. And now, NASA satellite images reveal how the devastating storm turned formerly green islands into a dull brown.
NASA captured Hurricane Irma’s destruction from space via satellite imagery. They compared images from late August, before the storm, with images snapped in the last couple of days in September. The pictures show how islands once bursting with greenery are now brown. There are a few reasons this might have happened, according to NASA. Hurricane winds could have ripped away vegetation, allowing satellites to capture more bare ground. Or, salt spray from the storm could have dried out leaves while they were still on trees, giving them a brown appearance.
Virgin Gorda, pictured above, is one of the islands that now looks mostly brown, although NASA Earth Observatory said the south and west of the island is slightly greener, perhaps because hills in the center shielded those areas from Irma’s winds. In the images of Virgin Gorda, the ocean after Irma looks bright blue in comparison with the ocean color before the storm; NASA said that could be because “rougher surfaces scatter more light, and appear brighter and lighter.”
The island of Barbuda, shown above, endured an especially devastating hit from Hurricane Irma; 95 percent of the its structures have been damaged, according to Time. Antigua and Barbuda prime minister Gaston Browne said the destruction was heart-wrenching. Antigua fared a little better – the vegetation on that island seems to be relatively intact in satellite images. NASA Earth Observatory said Irma’s center passed to the north, and Antigua didn’t face as much damage.
Images via Joshua Stevens/NASA Earth Observatory