Satellite imagery shows pollution runoff in Carolina rivers from Hurricane Florence

The natural color image from Landsat 8 reveals how soils, sediments, decaying leaves, pollution, and other debris have discolored the water in the swollen rivers, bays, estuaries, and the nearshore ocean. (NASA Image)

Among the many challenges residents face in the wake of Hurricane Florence and its catastrophic floods, satellite imagery now shows the pollution and sediment from the floods are affecting the river basins.

The National Weather Service office in Raleigh offered a preliminary estimate that nearly 8 trillion gallons of rain fell on North Carolina from Sept. 13-17.

All of that water has washed soil, sediments, decaying leaves, pollution and other debris into swollen rivers, bays estuaries and the nearshore ocean. This image shows in the White Oak River, New River, Adams Creek, and their outflows along the coast on Sept. 20

NASA says this second image "combines visible and infrared data to reveal the amount of colored dissolved organic matter (CDOM) in those waterways. Organic matter—such as leaves, roots, or bark—contain pigments and chemicals (such as tannins) that can color the water when they dissolve. Depending on the amount of dissolved particles, the water in natural-color imagery can appear blue, green, yellow, or brown as the CDOM concentration increases."

Farther inland, the Trent River reached an all-time high of 29 feet on Sept. 17 -- more than twice the height of when it begins to flood. The Trent was one of 16 rivers that reached major flood stage in North Carolina on Sept. 18.

Here is a before and after along the Trent River, as seen from a NASA Satellite:

The storm has been blamed for 47 deaths across the southeast and many areas remain flooded nearly two weeks after the storm struck.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off