This Space Station Footage of Hurricane Irma Shows Just How Massive It Is
Something about seeing it from above makes it all the more real.
Less than a week after Hurricane Harvey ravaged southeast Texas, another massive storm is headed towards the US. Irma, a Category 5 hurricane, has already made landfall on the Caribbean island of Barbuda and is projected to hit Puerto Rico and Florida by Friday.
Category 5 is the most severe classification for these types of storms, with wind speeds 157 mph or higher and the potential for "catastrophic damage" that makes affected areas "uninhabitable for weeks or months." And Irma is one of the most powerful Atlantic storms on record, with wind speeds reaching 185 mph. But conceptualizing the scale of these disasters can be difficult, particularly if you're far from the path of destruction. That's why video footage of the storm seen from the International Space Station is so compelling. It makes it all-too-obvious how massive and powerful Irma is:
The ISS completes 15.54 orbits around the Earth each day, and often gets spectacular views of the world below. On Tuesday and Wednesday, NASA's Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center has published the ISS's view of Irma as it made a pass over the Atlantic, capturing the scope of the storm at its height. The difference is noticeable, with the storm appearing wider and denser on the second day. Check out Tuesday's video here:
It's difficult to predict exactly where and when Irma will hit the US, and how powerful it will be at that time. It all depends on how soon it veers north. But as the video makes clear, whatever populated places Irma passes through, it's going to cause a lot of destruction.
Get six of our favorite Motherboard stories every day by signing up for our newsletter.