There’s a high definition camera on the International Space Station that frequently captures some of the most astounding sites on Earth. The latest entry into the oeuvre is Hurricane Lane.
The space station passed over Lane multiple times on Wednesday when the storm was in peak form as a Category 5 hurricane with winds of 160 mph. From the cold confines of space, Lane is a marvel. Its eye is wide open, staring back at the camera and the inky black of space beyond. The structure of the hurricane is clear as clouds swirl around its center.
But while it’s easy to get lost in wonder from the view above, we shouldn’t lose sight of what’s at stake here on Earth. As of Thursday, Hurricane Lane is a dangerous Category 4 storm bearing down on Hawaii. It could become the first hurricane to make landfall in Hawaii in 26 years. Even if it doesn’t, Lane’s impacts are expected to be major.
The Big Island has already seen a foot of rain and the flood risk is acute for nearly every island. Storm surge, heavy surf, and winds are all on the table as well. There’s even the chance of a few tornadoes spinning up, an extreme rarity for Hawaii. So take a minute to be astounded that we can see hurricanes from space, but don’t forget this storm means business, and people’s lives are on the line.