With thousands of homes, buildings, and neighborhoods still lacking power from the powerful derecho that struck the D.C.-area, the reminder of how crippling the storm was to this region’s infrastructure is still felt and seen by many. Even with power companies like Dominion and Pepco working around the clock to ameliorate the heavy damages on power lines from downed trees and the hurricane-level gusts from the storm, many areas affected by the storm are still waiting what can be days for their power to be restored.
To show the effect the storm had on the infrastructure and power lines in the D.C.-area, NASA’s Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite was able to take before and after images of what the eastern seaboard was like during the storm. The satellite was first launched from Vanderberg Air Force Base on OCtober 28th, 2011 to take atmospheric measurements and readings, as well as photos of storms and their movement. The extensive power outages in both D.C. and Baltimore are pretty evident in the photos, and the major loss of power on major highways and interstate routes are also strikingly visible in the “after” picture.
These photos really drive home the power of a derecho, which is essentially a storm that combines some of the worst elements and effects of hurricanes. They are fast-moving, have intense lightning clusters, and have hurricane-force winds that can reach 60 miles per hour or more in terms of gusts. What’s particularly devastating about these storms is that they form quickly and the gusts have a multiplying effect in terms of strength since the winds typically blow only in one direction instead of the usual side to side.
Luckily, the satellite was equipped with a day/night S-NPP’s Visible Infared Imaging Radiometer Suite which allows for crisp night time images, giving a better view of what parts of the Earth look like at night.
Judging from these photos, it’s fairly clear that this storm caught a lot of people off guard.