Flooding - Ohio River from Wheeling WV to Cincinnati OH


Can we do mini campaigns across this river route (in blue)?

Big area…

The Ohio River has already flooded Pomeroi and Meigs in Ohio. The river is already at, or over, flood stage with more rain coming. Ohio and KY will be hardest-hit bc they are downstream. Wheeling WV is supposed to crest tomorrow… then it dominoes down the river.

** Counties have also requested donations for clean-up goods, like shovels, brooms, mops, garbage bags, hand wipes or sanitizer liquids, disinfectants for household items, etc. You can contact any county from WVA, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, or Kentucky (which is on the opposite side of the river). Plenty of counties to choose from! PA should not be affected as much.


Background info from IN to WV

Cincinnati Ohio

Ripley ohio

Pomeroi Ohio with video drone

Steubenville Ohio
Communities in eastern, southern Ohio dealing with flooding

Wellsburg WV

Wheeling WV

The Ohio River, which streams westward from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Cairo, Illinois, is the largest tributary, by volume, of the Mississippi River in the United States.
981.1 mi

Iroquoian name Ohi means “good river”. The Good River and its people need eyes from above to review the Ohio River’s flooding.

Thanks for considering!


I like this idea, @cageycat. The first thing I would need to do is see if we have imagery post-event. I probably won’t have time to do this until later in the week/next week, but an enterprising nodder could always pitch in at https://discover.digitalglobe.com/ and let me know what you see!



What if I don’t understand what I see? lol What if I don’t know what I’m doing and I’m all toes? :cat2:

I drew 3 polys because the Ohio southern State boundary /northern WV and KY States’ borders follows the river. I tried to keep the river in the middle of the polys. My polys covered from Wheeling to Marietta Ohio; then Marietta to I think near Huntington WV, and Huntington to the western State border of Ohio which includes Cincinnati Ohio.

I highlighted all the map titles it showed for each poly (checked and unchecked). I sent those to my own email until I get direction from you about whether I did it right.

I don’t know how closely to draw a poly along a river but still show both river banks. I suspect you could cut away some on my polys.

As far as the river width: “The river’s valley is narrow, with an average width of less than 0.5 mile (0.8 km) between Pittsburgh and Wheeling (West Virginia), a little more than 1 mile (1.6 km) from Cincinnati (Ohio)…” If you do not have to cut out any of the river, we could tag boats / barges too, since The Ohio is // has always been one of the most used gateways to the west, for people and goods.

The biggest problem with polys is the zig-zagging river pathway. It’ll make for some strangely cut maps.

Please advise if I am on the right track and should fwd to you my map ID numbers? What address should I use?
Or if I need to start over; and if so, how to poly this long area correctly?


Thanks @cageycat for starting on this!!! :smiley:

Sorry I have not been able to circle back this week.

You’re right - it’s hard to draw the AOI over something as meandering as a river. I would/will probably do it in chunks to get a sense of what we have available, by using the “draw a polygon” tool.

When you’ve draw a polygon, it will show all of our imagery from that area. We are really interested in dates at this point - do we have anything post-flooding? If you hide results, you can filter on dates.

If we do have imagery, what I’m really after is our Image ID - which you see if you push the plus sign.

We have some other ways of searching imagery which I can look into at some point too - this is just one that is publicly available and fairly easy to use (although the river will be difficult to track, as you noticed).



At California, Ohio






Scenes like this are up and down the length of the “Oh-i” from WV to IN (Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana)

Gonna see if I can ID some imagery Monday or Tuesday, when flood stages are topped.

@Shaul @Jim7 @Doug3 @Newtonian How big is a decently sized “map” that we use for a campaign? When I did some test cutting-polys along this river, each said it was 1k for a narrow but longish section. Do I need to make each poly shorter in length?

We had an Emergency Mgt guy on here & in campaigns about a year ago-- are you still around? I could use some help with deciding how big to make the areas. For width, how do I know how much land to include on both sides of the river? I was thinking 1 mile each side… should I make the map at more than 1 mile each side? or less? The river itself is 1/2 to 1 mile width…




Oh, that is massive flooding! I feel so sorry for all affected.

Do you remember the campaign where we were searching for tracks across the border between Nigeria and Cameroon? The map was wider than that, but we were told to only concentrate on the very narrow strip along the border. Maybe it would be best if we were able to cut out a narrow area along the river valley, but I think that we shouldn’t “kill ourselves” trying to cut out the valley. Maybe it would be enough to give instructions to concentrate on the area closest to the river?

Let’s say that each square is around 350 m x 450 m in size; that seems to be the square size in the Hurricane Maria campaign (http://www.tomnod.com/campaign/campaign_2128/). If the river itself is around 1/2 to one mile wide (800 m to 1600 m), and the river valley is maybe another mile wide on each side (a total of about 4000 m to 5000 m perpendicular to the river), that would mean that we need a width of around 10 to 15 squares. If we only have 1k squares in each map that we are interested in, that would mean that we would only have around 80 to 100 squares length per map. 100 squares mean a length of about 45 km (almost 30 miles) along the river. How long is the affected area in Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana?

According to Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ohio_River) the TOTAL length of the Ohio river is almost 1000 miles (1600 km). That would mean that we would need about 35 maps to cover the whole river valley. I guess that we would have to cover at least 75% of the length of the river; that would mean that we would need at least 25 maps - is that too many? Maybe we should aim for not more than ten maps - that would mean that we need around 3k of squares that we are interested in in each map.

The conclusion: As I suggested at the beginning - sorry that this post is long and detailed - the map itself could be bigger, to limit our work in having to cut out the river valley itself. The limited area along the river valley that we are interested in would be 85 to 90 miles in length per map, so we would need to have about 3k squares that we are interested in per map. That means that we would need 10-12 maps in total. Does that make sense?


Hi – Just saw this email. I think a mile should be plenty of map width for something like this. Maybe the emergency management person has some other ideas but unless the area is dead flat (like the Houston flooding) there shouldn’t be water way far away from the river.



This is helpful @Saul Maybe as you seem to suggest, I shouldn’t try to follow the river and instead just cut straight across. Maybe Mel can have it cut down further.

I’m getting a taste of what Mel goes through. Not easy.


Hi @Newtonian Glad to see you again! What have you been up to?

Not sure if that EM guy is still around… Thanks for the tip about the river valley affecting flood widths Now, if I can just apply that with Saul’s tips…


Btw, what good would an Ohio river campaign make, i.e., who would be helped by our work? I’m not critical, just wondering.



Prelim finding on image 1, I outlined from Wheeling WV to Marietta, OH. It has pre-dates only, from Oct 2017 and some from 2016. No post dates. Should I continue to look at the rest, or not?

No idea if DG would task the sat to run across the southern border of Ohio to collect some post images, eh? It’s such a narrow area N to S (not even 1/2 the height of Ohio)… so it probably isn’t worth it in terms of satellite costs etc. :frowning:

I had no idea that finding pre and post images was this hard to do in terms of gathering them for “a campaign”. Kuddos @Mel_Nod

Me, Myself and I and my other selves say, “This is hard!”… “Wanna play?”

Or— feed me?


Thanks for looking @cageycat! And yes, sometimes imagery selection is the most challenging part of a project!

I just got a notice that DG is opening up a “First Look” event on the flooding in Niles and Kalamazoo Michigan and Louisville, Kentucky. This means we will be able to provide some post-event imagery in these areas.

(First Look is one of DG’s imagery subscription services, focusing on crisis response and world events).

I will keep an eye on this collection!



I am frustrated. Would you please ask DG if they would let the satellite run the entire Ohio River from W to East along the Ohio State Line? First, it would set “pre” imagery for any other future use as “post images” for other campaigns. But second, numerous Ohio River communities the length of the River through Ohio / between State of Ohio and State of Kentucky are flooded. In most instances, we won’t need to access post images; the flooding will be clearly noted.


Definitely not the EM guy… but having been to a few floods along rivers…

How wide is really a loaded question… but… consider that straighter rivers tend to flow faster, the terrain in the river bed a little steeper to cause that and the banks and valley both narrower and more restrictive. Meandering riverbeds (with oxbows) are usually slower moving, have flatter riverbeds with lots of marsh areas in between and have to be potentially considered to flood between the widest outer riverbanks, so the area can bulge like a well fed python…

if you see marshe areas anywhere along the river consider them full, look at those three images… not quite what I’m talking about, but looking you can see areas on the other side of the river that potentially as flooded as the foreground. I think most of these are dry, but still are not high over highwater mark…

I think most river communities have back flow protection on the storm drains but in the past storm drains have been able to lead water into otherwise dry areas… same for surface ditches… possible but one might want to look inland a bit more in the ‘flooded’ images.

That is about what comes to mind for now… hope it helps… always go a little further than you think is enough.

our last big flood in 12 or 13 Late May or Early June… water level was rear tire - 1ft. and about 5 feet behind. that was my team mate in the truck… I was out in the rain of course.flood plain at that time was about 1km wide and just starting to narrow up after a wide meander just to the north… nothing to do with the Ohio though… just wanted to show for those who might not have been face to face with one…


I understand your frustration, @cageycat. It would be wonderful to map a larger portion of the river and perhaps we will could. We have not however, had any requests for a crowdsourced dataset; so while I want to help where we can, I’m not sure what the outcome of us producing this data would be right now.

We are always balancing things here at DG. We have six satellites that each excel at different things. With these we are constantly balancing our commitments to the government, our other customers, and our outreach programs to make sure we can support all our efforts AND continue to stay in business!


I know… I know. Not easy.