Science & Astronomy

Huge Hurricane Florence Looms Large in New Views from Space (Video)

Hurricane Florence rages in the Atlantic Ocean in this view captured from the International Space Station by NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold on Monday (Sept. 10). Original Image
Credit: Ricky Arnold/NASA/Twitter
As Hurricane Florence intensified into a major, Category 4 storm in the Atlantic Ocean today (Sept. 10), astronauts and satellites have spotted the enormous weather system from space.

NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold shared views from the International Space Station, which orbits around 250 miles (400 kilometers) above the Earth. "A few moments later, #Isaac & the outer bands of #Helene were also visible," Arnold tweeted, referring to two other hurricanes swirling to the east of Hurricane Florence. Last Thursday (Sept. 6), Arnold shared his first photos of Hurricane Florence, taken when it was still a Category 2 storm.

While Arnold and his fellow Expedition 56 crewmembers have been keeping an eye on Hurricane Florence and other Atlantic storms, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has been monitoring the weather systems with its Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) series. [Hurricane Season 2018: How Long It Lasts and What to Expect]

This morning, NOAA tweeted a video from the GOES-East weather satellite, also known as GOES-16, showing the storm's eye churning through the Atlantic. At the time, Florence was a Category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale (which classifies hurricanes by strength on a scale of 1 to 5). At around 12 p.m. EDT (1600 GMT), the National Hurricane Center (NHC) announced that Hurricane Florence had strengthened to a Category 4 storm.

According to the NHC advisory, Hurricane Florence is now located 575 miles (925 km) south-southeast of Bermuda and 1,230 miles (1,985 km) east-southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina. Packing heavy winds with a maximum sustained wind speed of 130 mph (195 km/h), the hurricane is slowly barreling toward the U.S. East Coast, at a speed of approximately 13 mph (20 km/h).

"Further strengthening is anticipated, and Florence is expected to be an extremely dangerous major hurricane through Thursday," NHC officials warned in another advisory. Hurricane Florence is expected to make landfall on Thursday and will most heavily impact the coastal states of South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia.

NASA's Aqua satellite captured this infrared image of Hurricane Florence on Sept. 9, 2018, at 1:10 a.m. EDT (0510 UTC) using the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument. Original Image
Credit: NASA/NRL

Florence is the third hurricane of the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season, after Hurricane Chris (Category 1) and Hurricane Beryl (Category 2), which formed in early July but didn't make landfall.

Forecasters are also tracking two more hurricanes that have formed to the east of Florence: Hurricane Helene, which strengthened to a Category 2 storm off the west coast of Africa today, and Hurricane Isaac, a Category 1 storm currently located roughly halfway between Florence and Helene. 

You can find updates and public advisories related to Hurricane Florence and other hurricanes this season from the National Hurricane Center by visiting nhc.noaa.gov.

Email Hanneke Weitering at hweitering@space.com or follow her @hannekescience. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+. Original article on Space.com.

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Author Bio


Hanneke Weitering, Space.com Staff Writer

Hanneke joined the team at Space.com in August 2016 as a staff writer and producer. She's a self-proclaimed science geek from the South with a passion for all things out of this world! She has previously written for Scholastic, MedPage Today, Scienceline, and Oak Ridge National Lab. After studying physics at the University of Tennessee in her home town of Knoxville, she moved to New York City and earned her graduate degree in Science, Health and Environmental Reporting (SHERP) from New York University. To keep up with Hanneke's latest work, follow her on TwitterFacebook or Google+.