Gray Sky Event: Hurricane Fiona in Puerto Rico

Hurricane season got off to a slow start in 2022. Where normally August would be peppered with multiple tropical storms developing into hurricane strength, it took until mid-September to have a major named storm. This first storm, Hurricane Fiona, hit Puerto Rico on September 18 as a Category 1 storm. The storm pelted all of Puerto Rico with heavy rain (more than 30 inches in some areas) and caused flooding that was more widespread and damaging than when Hurricane Maria slammed into the island as a Category 4 storm in 2017.

The massive flooding across Puerto Rico tore through bridges and destroyed open roads. Rivers and streams were overflowing and pumps were unable to keep up with power eventually being lost. Thousands of Puerto Ricans had no water and working sewer systems following the flood. Homes collapsed in multiple areas around the island, leaving thousands stranded and in need of assistance.

The GIC’s Gray Sky team was activated and waited patiently until aerial imagery could be collected across a large part of the island. The challenge when capturing imagery in the Caribbean is always weather related, hoping that skies will be clear enough and not filled with cloud blockage. Over the course of a couple of days, high-resolution ortho imagery was captured over a large portion of the island. This 10cm aerial imagery is now available in GIC platforms, including GIC Viewer, Image Services for ArcGIS, and partner platforms.

The GIC also has Blue Sky imagery of Puerto Rico that was collected earlier this year for before and after comparisons.