High above the Earth in the darkness of outer space, NASA astronauts aboard the International Space Station captured amazing video footage of three hurricanes marching toward land.
On Tuesday, external cameras on the ISS captured time-lapse footage of hurricanes’ Lester and Madeline headed for Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean and Gaston in the Atlantic.
Orbiting the Earth every 90 minutes, the space station’s orbit 250 feet above ground is the perfect place to view the stormy planet; the ISS captured images of Hurricanes Madeline and Lester as they hovered between Category 3 and 4 storms.
Experts are predicting his year’s Atlantic hurricane season to be worse than normal this year, and the Pacific isn’t getting off easy either. Two massive hurricanes are headed toward Hawaii in what’s being called an unprecedented event forcing tourists to flee the Big Island while resident hunker down and prepare to wait out the storm.
Not only are hurricanes in Hawaii rare, they’re almost unheard off. If Madeline strikes the Big Island at hurricane strength it will be the first to hit since record keeping began in 1949. The island of Kaua’i was struck by Hurricane Iniki in 1992 and Iselle and Julio threatened to make landfall in 2014.
Residents are busy boarding up shop windows and snatching up supplies of food and water before the Hurricane makes landfall, as Hawaii resident Mitzi Bettencourt told the Associated Press.
“Hopefully our roofs stay on, and our houses don’t float way or get blown away. It’s like, ‘Oh my God, are we going to get flattened or what?'”
— Ryan Ozawa (@hawaii) August 31, 2016
On the East Coast, hurricane Gaston lost its major storm status Wednesday and was downgraded to Category 2 as Tropical Storm Hermine formed in the Gulf of Mexico 400 from Florida.
Hermine is expected to hit Florida’s Gulf Coast or Panhandle region sometime Thursday at could be hurricane strength.
Meanwhile, a tropical depression 215 miles off the coast of North Carolina is moving into the open ocean away from land and a tropical disturbance is being watched off the coast of Africa
In Hawaii, the governor has declared a state of emergency as residents prepare for the largest storm to hit the island in decades. The Coast Guard has issued orders for boat owners to secure their watercraft and large boats have been encouraged to seek protected marinas.
— Eric Fisher (@ericfisher) August 31, 2016
Hurricane Madeline has weakened somewhat, but officials like Hawaii County Civil Defense Administrator Ed Teixeira told are warning residents not to take the storm lightly, according to The Weather Channel.
“We are far from out of the woods. We want to urge our residents to please kokua, take care of one another and stay safe, and let’s get through this thing as fast as we can, because from this we’ve got to then switch our attention to Lester and what Lester may do.”
Lester, the hurricane following closely behind Madeline, is a Category 4 storm packing sustained winds up to 130 mph and is moving toward Hawaii at 13 mph. Forecasters expect Lester to remain at hurricane status as it nears the island bringing more wind and rain with it, reports the Honolulu Star.
“All interests in the Hawaiian Islands should continue to monitor the progress of Lester, as it is too early to determine what impacts there could be along the island chain given the track forecast uncertainty in the 3 to 5 day period.”
A remotely piloted NASA Gulfstream jet is flying NOAA missions into the hurricane so forecasters will be better able to understand Lester’s track and intensity.
Hurricanes are rare in Hawaii, they usually form farther south, but warming ocean waters fueled by climate change could mean the island is in for more hurricanes in the future, meteorologist Bob Henson told LikeTheFuture.
“Usually the waters [along this storm track] are on the edge of what’s needed to support hurricanes. Now, they’re just warm enough, and it’s making a big difference.”
What do you think of NASA video footage of the three hurricanes?
[Photo by NASA/AP Images]