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NASA images of California drought

Despite the welcome storm in San Francisco this weekend, my state is experiencing its worst drought in 100 years. Check out NASA’s imagery to learn more.

The drought is so bad, NASA satellites can see it from space. On Jan. 18th, 2014—just one day after California governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency—NASA’s Terra satellite snapped a sobering picture of the Sierra Nevada mountain range.  Where thousands of square miles of white snowpack should have been, there was just bare dirt and rock.

At the Jet Propulsion Lab, a group of researchers led by Tom Painter are preparing to fly a Twin Otter aircraft over the Sierras to investigate the situation.  Their “Airborne Snow Observatory” is equipped with a laser radar and a spectrometer to measure the snow’s depth and reflectivity.  From these data, it is possible to calculate the water content of the Sierras within 5% and future snowmelt rates with similar precision.

“The Airborne Snow Observatory was designed for times like this when we really need to know the state of the snow pack,” says Painter. “Our next flight will be over the Tuolumne River Basin.” The Tuolumne watershed and its Hetch Hetchy Reservoir are the primary water supply for 2.6 million San Francisco Bay Area residents.

via California Drought – NASA Science.

TerraFly’s Data

In the early days of the web, TerraFly.com from Florida International University was super cool.

Using TerraFly you could virtually fly over the United States using USGS imagery. This feature is still available.

Well 7 or so years have passed and the imagery, well, it’s everywhere and in some cases better.

However, this free service still as one very cool and very useful feature, gobs of local data.

From Census info to local hotels to fires, it’s in Terrafly.

Give it a try.

1) Go to TerraFly

2) Enter in an address or just a Zip and make sure your pop-up blocker is off.

3) Wait for a couple of two new windows to open.

4) Review imagery. Now, click on a specific point on the image.

5) A new window will open with filled with local data. If you clicked a few blocks away some of the numbers and items would be different.

Here’s what a page for a specific address looks like for a spot in Chicago.