Case Study: Hurricane Idai

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Black Marble products expedited disaster relief efforts in Mozambique during Hurricane Idai

In March 2019, Tropical Cyclone Idai made a devastating landfall over Mozambique’s port city of Beira, Sofala Province. The storm - considered one of the deadliest cyclones to hit the Southern Hemisphere - destroyed and damaged about 90% of Beira City’s infrastructures and energy grids, leaving thousands of people homeless and without electricity. The impact of the storm was catastrophic due to a combination of high winds, and concentrated rainfall, low-lying land and poor-quality housing and infrastructure.

In response to the requests from the Department of State and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the Black Marble Product effort led by Miguel Román, monitored the impacts of Cyclone Idai in Mozambique in coordination with NASA and World Bank partners.

The power outage maps generated using the Black Marble products  expedited disaster response efforts. By tracking these outages over time, stakeholders can also monitor the recovery effort, and better understand the state of basic service provision in local communities, and how vulnerable populations with poor access to resources are being affected. As such, these information products inform disaster response efforts in the short-term, while also improving our understanding of how communities can become more resilient to disasters in the long term. These products were made publicly available through the NASA’s disaster data portal.

The insights gained from the recovery efforts in Mozambique emphasize the unique capabilities of the Earth from Space Institute (EfSI), which is continuing to develop these products for improved disaster response and long-term recovery assessments.

Monitoring Impact of Cyclone Idai through Power Outages using Black Marble

Extent of electric lighting monitored by Black Marble in the city of Beira on March 9 (left) and on March 24 (right) ten days after Cyclone Idai hit the region. Credit: NASA Earth Observatory