Phil Plait reports for Slate on satellite photo showing the, “Scar of a deadly tornado,” that, “Wreaked havoc on Moore, Oklahoma,” on May 20,2013.
On May 20, 2013, a huge tornado wreaked havoc on Moore, Oklahoma, tearing right through the town. It was rated an EF5, the highest possible, with 340 km/hr (210 mile/hour) winds. Two dozen people lost their lives, hundreds were injured, and thousands of buildings sustained damage—from minor problems to complete razing.
Two weeks later, from high above, the Terra Earth-observing satellite peered down at the region and took this picture showing just how laser-focused the tornado was.
NASA describes this satellite photo taken showing the path the tornado took:
On June 2, 2013, the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) on NASA’s Terra satellite observed the scar of that tornado on the Oklahoma landscape. In this false-color image, infrared, red, and green wavelengths of light have been combined to better distinguish between water, vegetation, bare ground, and human developments. Water is blue. Buildings and paved surfaces are blue-gray. Vegetation is red. The tornado track appears as a beige stripe running west to east across this image; the color reveals the lack of vegetation in the wake of the storm.
According to the National Weather Service, the tornado was on the ground for 39 minutes, ripping across 17 miles (27 kilometers) from 4.4 miles west of Newcastle to 4.8 miles east of Moore, Oklahoma. At its peak, the funnel cloud was 1.3 miles (2.1 kilometers) wide and wind speeds reached 210 miles (340 km) per hour.