Photos: Hurricane Irma Turns Caribbean Islands Brown

NOAA Earth Observatory


These natural-color images, captured by the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on the Landsat 8 satellite, show some of Irma’s effect on the U.S. and British Virgin Islands. The views were acquired on August 25 and September 10, before and after the storm passed. They are among the few relatively cloud-free images of the area so far.

The most obvious change is the widespread browning of the landscape. There are a number of possible reasons for this. Lush green tropical vegetation can be ripped away by a storm’s strong winds, leaving the satellite with a view of more bare ground. Also, salt spray whipped up by the hurricane can damage and desiccate leaves while they are still on the trees.