This shocking satellite image of Mozambique shows that an area the size of Joburg remains under water

Business Insider SA
  • A radar satellite image shows a large body of water in the area around Beira in Mozambique - five days after Cyclone Idai made landfall.
  • Hundreds of people are reported to have died in the storm.
  • Radar satellite images, which can "see" through thick clouds, give an accurate view of the situation on the ground.

Using satellite images, Cape Town-based data scientist Glenn Moncrieff has charted the devastation caused by Cyclone Idai.

More than 2.6 million people in Malawi, Zimbabwe and Mozambique have been affected by the cyclone, which first made landfall on Thursday last week. Hundreds of people are reported to have died in the storm.

According to the UN World Food Programme, the storm has caused a major humanitarian emergency that is "getting bigger by the hour".

These European Space Agency satellite images show how the cyclone moved into Mozambique:

March 9, 2019. Credit: Glenn Moncrieff/European Space Agency
March 1, 2019. Credit: Glenn Moncrieff/European Space Agency
March 14, 2019. Credit: Glenn Moncrieff/European Space Agency

Wind speeds reached up to 170 km an hour and the Mozambican coastal town of Beira got the worst of the heavy rain.

Moncrieff compiled a time lapse of radar satellite images comparing the area around Beira in January, with what it looked like on Tuesday – five days after the cyclone hit. The dark blue areas indicate surfaces covered by water, showing that large areas remain flooded. 

Radar satellite images show the region around Beira in Mozambique before the recent cyclone (left) – and the large area that remained under water by Tuesday (right), five days after the flooding started. For scale, the white figure indicates the size of the City of Johannesburg. Credit: Glenn Moncrieff/ Sentinel Hub

The white insert shows the City of Johannesburg (1,600 square kilometres) for scale. 

Moncrieff says he used radar satellite images as they are able to “see” through the cloud that have covered the area since the cyclone arrived.

Radar satellites compile images by sending out electronic signals that bounces off objects, reflecting differently off rough surfaces like vegetation and smooth surfaces such as water.  Radar satellites are especially useful in severe weather conditions.

Moncrieff, who works at the South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON), used the  cloud-based geographic information system platform Sentinel Hub to produce the images.

Take a look: Amazing satellite photos show how alien trees are being wiped out in Cape Town

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