Google Releases Satellite Pics of Moore, Oklahoma Before and After the Tornado


After Moore, Oklahoma was struck by a deadly tornado earlier this week, photographs quickly emerged showing what the storm looked like from space and what the destruction was like on the ground.

Now, Google’s Crisis Center website has published satellite photographs showing what the city look like before and after the tornado. As you can see from the “after” photo above, the tornado — which measured 1.3-miles wide at one point — left a trail of devastation that looks like a scar on the face of the Earth.

Here are some before and after photographs showing various parts of the city on April 29th, 2013 and on May 22nd, 2013:









One striking thing seen in the satellite photographs is how concentrated the tornado’s damage is on the land. In certain neighborhoods, groups of three or four homes are completely destroyed, while homes nearby on either side of the path remain standing with their roofs intact:



Here’s an interactive view you can use to browse the imagery yourself (use the “Layers” button to toggle the before and after imagery):

You can find a larger version of this interactive browser over on the Google Crisis Center website.

Moore, Oklahoma Tornado [Google Crisis Center via CNET]

P.S. As we shared earlier this week, there are a number of major relief organizations you can donate to if you’d like to help the victims of this disaster.

Thanks for sending in the tip, Leonardo!

  • Greg Planchuelo

    What really impressed me even more than the effects of the tornado is the way the houses are distributed in these symmetrical patterns. It remembered me of this:

  • harumph

    The typical layout of suburban neighborhoods impressed you more than the tornado damage?

  • Astrofrigo

    It is not “typical” for many people. For me, for example, it’s very impressive too. I live in Spain and things here are really different.

    Nevertheless, the effects of the tornado are devastating… you can see the whole path..

  • Greg Planchuelo

    Don’t misinterpret me harumph. Of course the Oklahoma event is very tragic, but as we are in a photography blog I already took it for granted and talked about the artistic point of view of this incident. There really doesn’t have to be a special mention to how tragic this is every time we raise the issue

    I just happen to find these pictures photographically beautiful. I am not impressed by the tornado, I am just sad. What really impresses me is the geometrical layout.

    Also, as astrofrigo said, these kind of landscapes are very alien to many people who do not live in the US. I too happen to live in Spain and find these sights shocking.

  • harumph

    I wasn’t implying that these types of tract homes are everywhere (although look at German or Swedish suburbs through Google Earth and you’ll find that they are not alien to Europe). I was saying that aerial images of American suburbia are ubiquitous to the point of being a longstanding cliche (all over the world). It would be like me looking at photos of a police riot in San Sebastian and commenting how impressive the cobblestone streets are. Just kind of misses the point.

  • Greg Planchuelo

    This is true. However I must insist that as we are on a photography blog I was taking the conversation to that area. I really find these geometrical suburban patterns very interesting from a PHOTOGRAPHIC point of view. Not just interesting per se but interesting from an artistic viewpoint. That’s why if you were looking at photos of a riot in San Sebastian and were photographically impressed by the images it would be appropriate to say so in a photography blog such as PetaPixel.

    That’s why in other cases of tragic events, such as the Gaza funeral, people in PetaPixel where mainly talking about photography and not about drama. I encourage you to take a look at the comments and you’ll see that most of the people where discussing photography related issues []. Why should this article be an exception?

    I didn’t mean to stir any confusion about the intention of my post. I thought we were on a photography blog, not on a sociopolitical / news website.

  • harumph

    No, what’s most impressive about these images from a PHOTOGRAPHIC standpoint is that they show the damage done by the tornado. It has absolutely nothing to do with sociopolitics. I’m only discussing these in terms of the photography as well. I’ve said nothing about the tragedy itself. What’s more impressive, a satellite view of the farmland shown in your post above, or a satellite view of that same farmland on fire? One shot would be something that you can pull up on Google Earth at home on your computer at any given moment, while the other shot would be extraordinary. Do you see my point now? From a PHOTOGRAPHIC standpoint, the after shots are what’s extraordinary here.

  • Greg Planchuelo

    Good harumph, now I see your point. It wasn’t clear for me if you were just attacking my apparent lack of empathy or if we were discussing about photography.

    However, as regards my personal taste, I still find more interesting the geometrical patterns of the houses than the devastation of the tornado. I must admit that I am a big fan of these kind of symmetrical and organised landscapes. I found equally interesting these images posted in PetaPixel some time ago:




    You can also see that I am keen on geometry, symmetry and patterns looking at my own pictures:

    Cheers! I hope all is clear now (:

  • harumph

    I wasn’t attacking any lack of empathy. I apologize for being too abrasive.

  • rudeboi

    My question today and has always been; why do people live in tornado alley?

  • devon ray

    Because it’s home. It’s who we are. It’s where we live. It’s where we’re born and raised. If you think it’s ‘stupid’ of us ‘redneck’ Okies to continue to live here, why don’t you leave everything you know just because you don’t like the weather? And tell me where you would go. Name me one place on the planet where there are no storms, no earthquakes, no tsunamis, no wildfires, no scalding high or instant frostbite low temps.
    We have learned to deal with it, how to live with it. We learn. We grow. We rebuild. And we live.
    I challenge you, I challenge EVERYONE to come here. See us. Experience us. Learn from us. And you will understand why we are also called the Heartland.

  • rudeboi

    Thank you. It was not an indictment, but I was and have always been curious as to why and now I know.