Most things on Earth look peaceful from space. Not this.
On October 3, the International Space Station passed 250 miles over Hurricane Matthew. The Category 4 storm was churning with 140 mile-per-hour winds and was about to make landfall over Haiti and the Dominican Republic, where it killed at least 11. The storm tore through Haiti in particular, forcing tens of thousands into shelters, washing out roads and bridges, and taxing an already strained health care system. The United Nations is calling the storm’s destruction in Haiti the worst humanitarian crisis there since the 2010 earthquake.
You can’t see the destruction from space. But you can see how freaking enormous this storm is. The several-hundred-mile-wide storm takes up most of the camera’s frame. And you can see the storm’s central eye very clearly.
Here’s a view of the storm as captured by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s GOES-East satellite, which is about 22,000 miles above the surface.
Large hurricanes are fueled by warm oceans and low winds in the upper atmosphere (which can remove heat and moisture from the system). And those are exactly the conditions around Matthew. “Wind patterns in the upper atmosphere and the warm water in the tropical Atlantic should help maintain Matthew’s hurricane strength for the rest of the week,” NASA reports.
Forecasters are unsure of where the storm will head from here. It has weakened slightly to a Category 3 storm with 115 mph winds, but could pick up intensity again. The storm seems likely to graze past Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina from Friday through the weekend. Whether it will continue up the East Coast or head back out to sea remains to be seen.
How to follow Hurricane Matthew:
- The National Hurricane Center has a page updating with the latest watches and warnings for Matthew. Check it out.
- The National Hurricane Center also has a storm surge predictor. If you live on the coast, you’ll want to check your risk for flooding. The NHC notes that this tool is still a prototype, and that “due to forecast uncertainty, the actual areas that experience life-threatening inundation may differ from the areas shown on this map.”
- Follow the Capital Weather Gang’s Twitter account. These folk tend to live-tweet storm updates.