Mozambique – Copernicus Sentinel-1 Maps Floods in Wake of Idai

As millions of people in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe struggle to cope with the aftermath of what could be the southern hemisphere’s worst storm, Copernicus Sentinel-1 is one of the satellite missions being used to map flooded areas to help relief efforts.

Credit: contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2019), processed by ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

Cyclone Idai swept through this part of southeast Africa over the last few days, leaving devastation in its wake. Thousands of people have died and houses, roads and croplands are under water.

It is currently thought that well over two million people in the three countries have been affected, but the extent of destruction is still unfolding.

The authorities and military are working desperately to rescue people, but roads and other transport and communication links are cut off.

Copernicus Sentinel-1 maps floods from Idai. Credit: contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2019), Cosmo-SkyMed, processed by GAF AG/e-GEOS/CMEMS

In order to plan and execute this kind of emergency response it is vital to understand exactly which areas have been affected – especially as accessing people cut off is extremely challenging.

Satellites orbiting Earth can provide indispensable up-to-date information to observe such events, as shown here on the right from the Copernicus Sentinel-3 mission, and, importantly, to map flooded areas for response teams facing these dire situations.

The disaster triggered activations in both the Copernicus Emergency Mapping Service and the International Charter Space and Major Disasters.

Both services take advantage of observations from several satellites and provide on-demand mapping to help civil protection authorities and the international humanitarian community in the face of major emergencies.

The image at the top is from Copernicus Sentinel-1 and shows the extent of flooding, depicted in red, around the port town of Beira in Mozambique on 19 March. This image on the left uses the mission to map the flood for relief response through the Copernicus Emergency Mapping Service.

Sentinel-1’s radar ability to ‘see’ through clouds and rain, and in darkness, makes it particularly useful for monitoring floods.

Images acquired before and after flooding offer immediate information on the extent of inundation and support assessments of property and environmental damage.

Credit: contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2019), processed by ESA

Source: European Space Agency

Flood Summary

Last updated: March 20, 2019
Event
Tropical Cyclone Idai, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, March 2019
Date
March 14, 2019
Type
Coastal flood, Flash flood
Cause
Storm surge, Extreme rainfall
Tropical Cyclone Idai made landfall on 14 March in the district of Dondo, Sofala province in Mozambique. Initial damage assessments suggest widesrpead destruction and at least 48 deaths. Idai also brought strong winds and flooding to parts of Zimbabwe from around 15 March, where over 30 deaths have been reported and over 100 people are missing.

As further assessments were carried out the death toll increased. In Buhera, Manicaland Province in Zimbabwe, the Marowanyati dam burst and families are displaced.

Locations

A - Sofala (Mozambique)
B - Manica (Mozambique)
C - Tete (Mozambique)
D - Inhambane and (Mozambique)
E - Gaza (Mozambique)
F - Chimanimani (Zimbabwe)
G - Chipinge (Zimbabwe)
H - Nyanga (Zimbabwe)
I - Mutare (Zimbabwe)
J - Buhera (Zimbabwe)
K - Chipinge - Rainfall level 219 mm in 24 hours
L - Chisengu - Rainfall level 127 mm in 24 hours
M - Buhera - Rainfall level 102 mm in 24 hours
N - Rusape - Rainfall level 56 mm in 24 hours
O - Caia - Rainfall level 62 mm in 24 hours
P - Chivhu - Rainfall level 99 mm in 24 hours
Q - Mutoko - Rainfall level 58 mm in 24 hours
R - Nyanga - Rainfall level 48 mm in 24 hours
S - Chimoio - Rainfall level 50 mm in 24 hours

Magnitude

Rainfall level
219 mm in 24 hours
Chipinge - March 16 to March 17, 2019
Met Services Dept Zimbabwe figures
Rainfall level
127 mm in 24 hours
Chisengu - March 16 to March 17, 2019
Met Services Dept Zimbabwe figures
Rainfall level
102 mm in 24 hours
Buhera - March 16 to March 17, 2019
Met Services Dept Zimbabwe figures
Rainfall level
56 mm in 24 hours
Rusape - March 16 to March 17, 2019
Met Services Dept Zimbabwe figures
Rainfall level
62 mm in 24 hours
Caia - March 16 to March 17, 2019
Ogimet figures
Rainfall level
99 mm in 24 hours
Chivhu - March 17 to March 18, 2019
Met Services Dept Zimbabwe figures
Rainfall level
58 mm in 24 hours
Mutoko - March 17 to March 18, 2019
Met Services Dept Zimbabwe figures
Rainfall level
48 mm in 24 hours
Nyanga - March 17 to March 18, 2019
Met Services Dept Zimbabwe figures
Rainfall level
50 mm in 24 hours
Chimoio - March 17 to March 18, 2019
WMO figures

Damages

Fatalities
136 people
Mozambique - March 14 to March 19, 2019
EU's DG-ECHO reported on 19 March that 202 people are reported dead (including 66 killed by flooding in early March in the Provinces of Tete and Zambezia) and more than 1,500 are injured.
Fatalities
102 people
Zimbabwe - March 14 to March 20, 2019
Affected
15,000
Zimbabwe - March 14 to March 18, 2019
Dam
1 dam
Buhera, Zimbabwe - March 15 to March 19, 2019
In Buhera, Manicaland Province, Zimbabwe, the Marowanyati dam burst and families are displaced.