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NASA image shows the flooding five days after the Morganza spillway was opened


The Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) on NASA's Terra satellite captured these false-color images of the Morganza Floodway on April 27, 2007 (left) and May 18, 2011 (right). The images are a combination of infrared, red, and green wavelengths to help distinguish between water and land. Clear water is blue, and sediment-laden water is a dull blue-gray. Vegetation is red; the brighter the red, the more robust the vegetation. Gray patches away from the center of the floodway are likely farm fields that have recently been burned or cleared.

NASA reports on its Terra website:

Five days after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opened a flood control structure, or spillway, onto the Morganza Floodway, water had spread 15–20 miles southward across the Louisiana landscape.

The leading edge of the flood water was about 3 miles below Krotz Springs, according to Ricky Boyett, a spokesman for the Army Corps. Arrival at the Atchafalaya River is imminent, though the southward flow of water in the floodway has been slower than projections. The region had been suffering through a significant drought, so the ground and side waterways have been able to absorb more water than originally anticipated.


State of Louisiana / AFP - Getty Images

An aerial view of the Morganza Spillway on May 16.

Click here to see our flood slideshow.

Click here to see more images from space.