The National Hurricane Center forecasts additional strengthening for Florence before it reaches the coastline of North Carolina and SC early Friday, Sept. 14.
Gerst and American astronaut Ricky Arnold captured the Category 4 storm and its swirling eye up close in images posted to Twitter this morning, emphasizing its epic scale and their thoughts for people in its path.
Hurricane Florence, on its way across the Atlantic Ocean toward North Carolina, dominates photos and video from the International Space Station, where astronauts are using wide-angle lenses because of how far the storm extends. "While some weakening is expected to begin by late Thursday, Florence is still forecast to be an extremely risky major hurricane when it nears the USA coast on Friday", the NHC said in an 11 a.m.
"The crew of @Space_Station is thinking of those who will be affected", Arnold said in a tweet. That also means that colossal weather systems like Hurricane Florence are easy to observe as the spacecraft cruises along.
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NASA called the view - captured by cameras on the International Space Station - "stark and sobering".
"Cameras outside the International Space Station captured dramatic views of rapidly strengthening Hurricane Florence at 8:10 a.m. EDT Sept. 10 as it moved in a westerly direction across the Atlantic, headed for a likely landfall along the eastern seaboard of the USA late Thursday or early Friday", NASA explains in a new blog post. Winds this morning reached 130 miles per hour (200 km/h) and will likely strengthen before it arrives, officials said. "It's chilling, even from space", he wrote in another tweet.
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 now located roughly halfway between Florence and Helene.