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Mississippi Flooding Captured by NASA Satellites
The Mississippi River reached nearly 48 feet in Memphis, Tenn., on May 10, according to the U.S. National Weather Service. It was the highest water level for Memphis since 1937.

Several of NASA's fleet of Earth-observing satellites have been gathering data on the current Mississippi flooding as well as floods worldwide. The progress of the floodwaters can be tracked in a series of satellite images posted on the NASA Earth Observatory website.

The Landsat 5 Thematic Mapper captured an image on May 10 showing in natural color the area around Memphis as it would look to the human eye. This month muddy water has pushed over the Mississippi’s banks both east and west of the normal river channel. Flood waters span the distance between Memphis and West Memphis. Another Landsat 5 image from April 21, 2010 (bottom), shows non-flooded conditions.

satellite image of Memphis

satellite image of Memphis Mississippi floodwaters inundate Memphis, Tenn., on May 10 as seen by the Landsat 5 satellite (top image). The bottom image shows the same view from April 21, 2010. (Credit: NASA Earth Observatory/United States Geological Survey)
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A broader view of the flooding in Arkansas is shown in a pair of images taken by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua over the past two weeks. The top image from May 10 and the bottom image on April 29 use a combination of infrared and visible light to increase the contrast between water and land. Water varies in color from electric blue to navy. Clouds (visible in the May image) are pale blue-green. Vegetation is green, and soil is brown. Both images show severe flooding along the Mississippi River.

satellite image of portion of Mississippi River

satellite image of portion of Mississippi River Flooding in Arkansas as seen on May 10 by NASA's Aqua satellite (top image). The bottom image shows the same view from April 29, 2011. (Credit: NASA Goddard/MODIS Rapid Response Team)
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For more NASA imagery on the current Mississippi flooding, visit:

Rob Gutro
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.