Watching Hurricane Harvey From the ISS Is Beautiful and Frightening

Friday, 25 August 2017 - 10:58AM
NASA
Earth
Space Imagery
Friday, 25 August 2017 - 10:58AM
Watching Hurricane Harvey From the ISS Is Beautiful and Frightening
Image credit: NASA
Batten down the hatches and brace for really bad news—something big is on the way, and it's not going to end well. Hurricane Harvey, the largest storm to hit the continental US in over a decade, is set to make landfall in Texas sometime tonight. Tens of thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes, the National Guard is rallying in unprecedented numbers, and the military is on standby for what will almost certainly be a devastating natural disaster.

As clouds gather, there's not much for most of us to do but wait and watch. Footage from NASA, taken onboard the International Space Station, gives a clear picture of just how enormous this event is going to be—if an image of the entire hurricane also displays the curvature of the Earth, it's hard not to sit up and pay attention:



There's something eerily beautiful about watching the storm mass from so very far away. Perspective is a wondrous thing, and the slowly spinning clouds of Hurricane Harvey almost look serene and peaceful from far enough above the planet. This certainly gives the storm a lot of gravitas as you remember the scale here—what looks like soap circling a drainpipe actually represents a clear and present danger to tens of thousands of lives and livelihoods across America.

At the very least, something this big is hard to miss as it brews, and the US' emergency preparedness forces, having learned from previous disasters, have been able to mobilize in advance to make sure as many people as possible are safe. Not everyone has had this luxury—over in southeast Asia, the head of the Meteorological and Geophysical Bureau in the tiny city state of Macau, Fong Soi Kun, was forced to resign this week after raising a typhoon warning too late to give adequate time for locals to prepare for one of the worst tropical storms to hit the region in decades.

Here's hoping that the damage and loss can be kept as low as possible across the US—the coming weekend is going to be very bad for a lot of people, no matter how beautiful the storm may look from the relative safety of the ISS.
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