Published on 11 September 2019
In the first week of September 2019, Hurricane Dorian left a path of destruction from the Caribbean to the Canadian Maritimes. Reaching category 5 strength for nearly two days and sustaining major hurricane status from August 30 to September 3, the storm devastated the northern Bahama Islands, strafed the southeast U.S. coast, and arrived in Nova Scotia as one of the five strongest hurricanes on record for that region.
The images above provide a broad view of the devastation in the northern Bahamas, which were lashed for nearly 40 hours by the second strongest Atlantic hurricane in modern meteorological records. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite acquired these natural-color images of Great Abaco Island and Grand Bahama on August 17 and September 7, 2019. Note the change in the color of the island landscape from green to brown, as well as the brightening of the reefs and shoals around the island due to sediments stirred up by the storm.
The widespread browning of Great Abaco and Grand Bahama could have several causes. Many trees were uprooted and destroyed by the storm, and some species of vegetation in the tropics have evolved to lose leaves and small branches in strong winds. The loss of leafy vegetation would give the satellite a view of more bare ground. Another possibility is that salt spray whipped up by the hurricane coated and desiccated some leaves while they were still on the trees.