Before and after imagery depicting tornado damage in the vicinity of the intersection of 15th St. E. and McFarland Blvd. E. in southeast Tuscaloosa, AL. The before imagery is courtesy of Google, the after imagery was acquired from an altitude of 5,000 feet above ground level by the NOAA King Air 350CER on April 29, 2011.
Download aerial images here. (Credit: NOAA)
Emergency responders and members of the public can now get a birds-eye view of the destruction wreaked by more than 305 reported tornadoes that swept through parts of the Southeast the week of April 25, killing more than 320 people.
Through NOAA’s National Geodetic Survey website, visitors can view a map of the region and click on an icon to view a thumbnail or high-definition image of a specific area. Images are now available for some of the Southeast’s hardest-hit areas, including the Alabama cities of Tuscaloosa and Birmingham, as well as other areas of Mississippi and Georgia.
The bigger picture: Surveying disaster from the air
Aerial imagery is a crucial tool used by federal, state, and local officials when responding to natural disasters because many areas may be inaccessible due to the volume of debris. Snapshots of the damage help emergency managers conduct search and rescue operations, route personnel and machinery, coordinate recovery efforts and better understand the damage sustained by the environment.
The photographs were taken by a team of NOAA aviators flying above the disaster area at 5,000 feet in NOAA’s King Air 350CER aircraft, a turboprop plane equipped with specialized remote-sensing cameras that captured thousands of photographs with high resolution of 17 centimeters-per-pixel.
NOAA technicians on the ground then weaved together a mosaic of photos and posted them on the public website. Images continue to be made available after each survey flight after a quality-checking process.
About the National Geodetic Survey
NOAA’s National Geodetic Survey is the U.S. government source for precise latitude, longitude, and elevation measurements. The NOAA fleet of ships and aircraft is operated, managed and maintained by the NOAA Office of Marine and Aviation Operations, which includes commissioned officers of the NOAA Corps and civilian wage mariners.
Posted May 5, 2011