On March 13, 2020, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on board NASA’s Terra satellite acquired a true-color image encompassing central Florida.
Hugged by the Gulf of Mexico in the west and the warm Atlantic Ocean in the east, it’s easy to see why the state is famous for copious sunny beaches. A large number of lakes and rivers forms a play land, ripe for fishing, boating and tourism. But the copious beaches and inland water also suggests a significant fact—the low topography of the state makes it especially vulnerable to flooding and storm surge. Indeed, the mean elevation of the state comes in at only 100 feet (30 meters) above sea level. The highest point in the state sits at only 345 feet (105 m).
A large area of dark water pours into the Gulf of Mexico along Florida’s “Big Bend”—the portion of the coast where the state’s panhandle curves to meet its peninsula. This marks the flow of water from the Suwanee River as it enters into the Gulf. The Suwanee is known as a “blackwater river” because of its dark-brown waters laden with organic matter. Unlike other blackwater rivers, the Suwanee maintains its inky color along its entire 250-mile (400 km) journey from the Georgia headwaters to the blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico.