Flooding Along the Rio Negro, Uruguay

Flooding Along the Rio Negro, Uruguay

The city named Paso de Los Toros sits just north of the Rio Negro in central Uruguay. Flowing from east to west, the Rio Negro’s course takes it through oxbow curves on either side of the city, surrounding Paso de Los Toros on three sides. Normally, the river’s banks are smooth and well-defined. The torrential rains that struck South America in late November 2009, however, pushed the Rio Negro well above its banks and broadened the channels of the smaller water bodies flowing into the river. The rising waters obscured the river’s usual course and encroached upon the city’s margins.

The Advanced Land Imager (ALI) on NASA’s Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite captured this true-color image of Rio Negro flowing past Paso de Los Toros. Throughout the scene, the river has overflowed its banks, which are still visible in places as narrow strips of plant-covered land. Floodwaters submerge not only parts of the land east of town, but also several parts of the city itself. One tributary immediately east of the city has expanded to the same width as the Rio Negro. The southeastern quadrant of the city has been whittled away by floodwaters to form a fairly thin strip of land poking into the river. The normally straight southern edge of Paso de Los Toros looks as if the river has bitten into it with massive teeth.

Sistema Regional de Visualización y Monitoreo (SERVIR) is a regional visualization and monitoring system that incorporates satellite observations. Using ALI imagery of Uruguay from early December 2009, SERVIR estimated that the heavy rains falling over South America in November 2009 flooded some 15,000 hectares (37,000 acres) of land in Uruguay.

NASA Earth Observatory image created by Jesse Allen, using EO-1 ALI data provided courtesy of the NASA EO-1 team. Caption by Michon Scott.

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