Hurricane Florence is so huge, astronauts had to use a super wide-angle lens
- The worst part of Hurricane Florence are the high and destructive storm surges it caused.
- Photography from space captured the scope of the storm.
- The science involved is fascinating but scary.
Every now and then, nature throws out a storm so massive we can only gaze upon it in humbling awe at its fearsome power. When Alexander Gerst and Ricky Arnold, astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS), attempted to photograph Hurricane Florence, the storm was so big they “could only capture her with a super wide-angle lens,” according to Gerst. The pictures they managed to take are both beautiful and terrifying. The storm was 500 miles wide at the time, with its outer bands stretching over the equivalent of a full third of the U.S. East Coast
What’s so scary about Florence?
A hurricane’s numerical classification tends to dominate the headlines, but it tells only part of the story—it rates a storm’s wind speeds—and not necessarily the most life-threatening part. Florence’s worst aspect: it’s slowing down and stalling over coastal areas, causing up to 19-foot storm surges, and dropping from 6 to 40 (!) inches of rain. And any hurricane produces disruptive, dangerous winds, regardless of its official category.
A fascinating glimpse at nature
Onboard the ISS, Gerst was able to capture some incredible images looking down in the storm’s eye.
Of course, as stately as Florence’s eye may look in these pictures, an NOAA video reminds us that it’s a churning place full of tremendous latent power.