May 12, 2021

Hurricane Irma wiped out so many plants in the Caribbean that entire islands changed color

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By Tom Murray From Business Insider

Sometimes devastation — like beauty — is best viewed from above. The NASA Earth Observatory has released an astonishing set of images that show the stark contrast between what islands in the Caribbean looked like before and after Hurricane Irma struck.

Barbuda, Anguilla, the Virgin Islands, and Cuba were hit by the worst of the storm, with some islands reporting that 90% of their structures were damaged or destroyed.

These natural-color images were captured by the Landsat 8 satellite before and after the storm hit.

According to NASA science writer Kathryn Hansen, the visible browning of the islands could have been caused by fierce winds, which reached speeds of 185 mph and tore plants and trees from the earth. The salt spray whipped on to the island by the hurricane also likely dried out the leaves on trees — causing them to turn brown.

Some islands fared better than others — vegetation on the west of Virgin Gorda (above) appears greener than the rest of the island probably because of shielding by hills in the island center.

“Wild isolation that made St. Barts, St. Martin, Anguilla and the Virgin Islands vacation paradises has turned them into cutoff, chaotic nightmares in the wake of Hurricane Irma,” the Associated Press reported.

Barbuda was the first island in the Caribbean to feel the wrath of Irma.The storm “totally demolished” the island, damaging upward of 90% of structures, according to the nation’s Prime Minister, Gaston Browne. The devastation could cost $100 million to repair, Browne said.

Barbuda’s sister island of Antigua, however, appears better off. The eye of Irma passed North of Antigua resulting in much less impact. The day after Irma passed, electricity had been restored in Antigua and the island’s airport was reopened.

IMAGES:

Devastation caused by Hurricane Irma has wiped out greenery on these Caribbean Islands.NASA Earth Observatory

Antigua and Barbuda. NASA Earth Observatory

Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands. NASA Earth Observatory

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