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NOAA Overflight Captures a Changed East Coast

Pictures taken from a plane reveal a coastline ravaged by Superstorm Sandy
NGS imagery of the Atlantic City, NJ



Flickr/NOAA's National Ocean Service

Stuck several states away and wondering if your vacation home on the shore is still standing in Hurricane Sandy's wake? Or simply curious to see the power and breadth of the Oct. 30 storm's reach?

Uncle Sam can offer some insight. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has been sending airplanes along the East Coast capturing the shoreline's changes. 

The planes fly at 5,000 feet, taking high-resolution images of the coast. The resulting composite offers a virtual tour of the altered coastline, allowing viewers to enter a specific address or simply scroll up and down the shore at will. 

The purpose is not for sightseeing, the agency notes. The images are detailed enough for emergency managers to conduct search-and-rescue operations, city officials to route personnel and machinery, and for insurance assessors and land managers, among others, to conduct cost-effective damage assessments of the coast, according to the agency.

"Aerial imagery is a crucial tool used by federal, state, and local officials as well as the public when responding to natural disasters," the agency said in a statement. "Many areas may be inaccessible due to the volume of debris."

The images are overlaid atop Google Maps imagery, and the NOAA website offers only post-storm views. Those looking to compare specific areas would need to flip between the NOAA images and those from another mapping services, such as Google Earth. But the agency has compiled a handful of before-after shots of some of the hardest-hit zones, including Mantoloking and Seaside Heights, N.J.

This article originally appeared at The Daily Climate, the climate change news source published by Environmental Health Sciences, a nonprofit media company.

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