Satellite image of Marsh Harbour after being struck by Hurricane Dorian © 2019, Planet Labs Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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The Atlantic braces for another busy hurricane season


The Atlantic hurricane season is here and like year’s past, it’s projected to be difficult. Last year was the busiest season on record, with a record 30 named storms with 12 making landfall. The 2020 season was so busy in fact, that the U.S. National Hurricane Center used up its entire list of alphabetized storm names and had to tap into the Greek alphabet for more. 

Last week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s Climate Prediction Center released their annual report, predicting another above-normal Atlantic hurricane season, with a 60% chance the season will see above-average named storms and major hurricanes. 

The severity and quantity of storms is increasing year over year, and sea level rise and the loss of protective ecosystems is exacerbating the problem, making coastal communities particularly vulnerable to erosion and flooding from storm surges. Government officials are already preparing for the worst and warning their coastal communities.

Before-and-after satellite imagery can be used to monitor and track the impacts of high-winds and storm surge, providing timely insights to emergency responders so they know exactly where recovery resources are needed most.

Left: August 20, 2020 Right: August 28, 2020; Hurricane Laura hit the Atchafalaya River Delta along the Louisiana coast hard, killing 33 people and creating $19 billion in damage. These false color PlanetScope images show the loss of land and vegetation along the Delta, reducing forest acreage and potable water for the coastline community. © 2020, Planet Labs Inc. All Rights Reserved. 

Left: May 16, 2020 Right: January 29, 2021; A small village community on the coast of Nicaragua is devastated by Hurricane Iota, the most powerful November hurricane on record, just two weeks after Hurricane Eta hit the region. Last year, these hurricanes displaced thousands of people across Central America, wiping away infrastructure and bringing local economies to a stand still. © 2020, Planet Labs Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The worst of the Atlantic hurricane season doesn’t usually hit until August, but we don’t live in a “usual” world anymore. It’s important that states and coastal cities begin preparing now, updating public alert systems and proactively planning emergency response procedures. 

Frequent, high-resolution satellite imagery is becoming an important piece of disaster recovery plans. Planet was the first private data solutions provider to support the International Space Charter and Major Disasters, making medium-resolution imagery available to government, humanitarian, and other emergency response organizations for disaster recovery. 

Read more about Planet’s Disaster Data program