Hurricane Florence seen from space is a 'no-kidding nightmare'

As satellites and the ISS tracks the storm's progress, one astronaut offers a stark assessment.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
2 min read

Hurricane Florence is getting worse. While people on the ground are preparing for floods, high winds and surging waves, the satellites and astronauts in orbit are looking down on the storm from above, and the views are startling.

NASA released a video of the hurricane on Monday as captured by cameras mounted outside the International Space Station.

The ISS was flying 255 miles (410 kilometers) above the storm when it got the footage, which NASA describes as "dramatic." 

The video tracks across the swirling clouds at the outer edges of the hurricane before passing over the eye. The video also includes still images from NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold, who photographed the storm from the ISS.

The massive storm is threatening the East Coast of the US with an expected landfall early Friday. South Carolina and North Carolina are evacuating people living in vulnerable areas along the coast. 

NASA shared a new sobering view of Florence on Wednesday morning. The high-def ISS camera makes the storm look like it's eating a good chunk of the globe.

European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst snapped some photos of his own to share on Twitter on Wednesday. 

"Watch out, America! #HurricaneFlorence is so enormous, we could only capture her with a super wide-angle lens from the @Space_Station, 400 km directly above the eye. Get prepared on the East Coast, this is a no-kidding nightmare coming for you," Gerst writes.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Goes-East weather-monitoring satellite used its lightning mapping technology for a video showing Florence, Tropical Storm Isaac and Hurricane Helene as they traveled across the Atlantic on Tuesday.

NASA also released an intriguing infrared look from its Aqua satellite on Tuesday, showing Hurricane Florence likely going through a process called "eyewall replacement." 

Enlarge Image

NASA's Aqua satellite sees the storm in infrared.


The image shows a band of thunderstorms in red outside of the hurricane's eye that'll eventually choke off and then replace the original center. "The storm's intensity can fluctuate over this period, initially weakening as the inner eye wall dies before again strengthening as the outer eye wall contracts," says NASA.

Satellites and astronauts will continue to monitor Hurricane Florence from the safe vantage point of space.

First published Sept. 11, 11:52 a.m. PT. 
Update, Sept. 12 at 9:17 a.m. PT: Adds tweet from ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst. 

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