Democracy Dies in Darkness

Capital Weather Gang

Hurricane Florence looks like a nightmarish monstrosity — ‘even from space’

By Reis Thebault

September 12, 2018 at 12:29 PM

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The International Space Station captured an aerial view of Hurricane Florence on Sept. 12, before its projected landfall. (NASA)

From above, it almost looks serene.

A three-minute video that NASA published Wednesday morning shows Hurricane Florence from a space-station’s-eye view, as a camera some 250 miles above earth pans slowly over the storm.

The hurricane is a shock of white, swirling brushstrokes against Earth’s pale blue canvas and the deep black backdrop of outer space.

NASA called the view — captured by cameras on the International Space Station — “stark and sobering.” An astronaut aboard the space station said it was “chilling."

That's because, on the ground, the storm has brought mayhem.

Florence, a Category 4 hurricane, is less than 48 hours from making landfall on America's southeastern coast, where more than a million people have been ordered to flee their homes.

A series of zoomed-in, high-definition photographs, also released Wednesday by NASA, reveal the storm's menacing movement across the Atlantic.

"Ever stared down the gaping eye of a category 4 hurricane? It's chilling, even from space,” tweeted German astronaut Alexander Gerst, who is aboard the space station.

The photos in Gerst's post capture Florence mid-churn, winds up to 130 mph whipping around the storm's eye.

In another post, the astronaut marveled at Florence's size — reportedly 500 miles across — writing that the storm “is so enormous, we could only capture her with a super wide angle lens."

From his orbiting perch, Gerst offered Earthlings yet another warning about the hurricane's dangers: “Get prepared on the East Coast, this is a no-kidding nightmare coming for you."

It's the latest advisory — albeit from a different perspective — that residents from Maryland to Georgia should be prepared for a dangerous storm.

The governors of North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia have all issued mandatory evacuation orders for the coastal communities that are in the storm's bull's eye. On Tuesday, William “Brock” Long, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said Florence “could be the most dangerous storm in the history of the Carolinas."

A day later, he issued a dire warning to anyone who is flouting the evacuation order, telling them that “you're putting your life in danger" and that Wednesday "is the last day to travel."

As the Capital Weather Gang has reported, scientists are warning of a triple threat to the coastal states:

1. A “life-threatening storm surge” at the coast — a tsunami-like rise in ocean water over normally dry land.

2. “Life-threatening freshwater flooding from a prolonged and exceptionally heavy rainfall event” from the coast to interior sections.

3. “Damaging hurricane-force winds” at the coast and some distance inland.

An American astronaut posted two additional photographs from the International Space Station, showing the storm aimed at Cape Hatteras, a thin and vulnerable strand of islands that jut out from North Carolina.

"The crew of @Space_Station is thinking of those who will be affected,” Ricky Arnold wrote.


Reis Thebault is a reporter covering national and breaking news. He has worked on the local desks of the Boston Globe and the Columbus Dispatch. He joined The Washington Post as an intern in June 2018.

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Capital Weather Gang

Hurricane Florence looks like a nightmarish monstrosity — ‘even from space’

By Reis Thebault

September 12, 2018 at 12:29 PM

Watch more!
The International Space Station captured an aerial view of Hurricane Florence on Sept. 12, before its projected landfall. (NASA)

From above, it almost looks serene.

A three-minute video that NASA published Wednesday morning shows Hurricane Florence from a space-station’s-eye view, as a camera some 250 miles above earth pans slowly over the storm.

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