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Hurricane Laura captured in space station photos as it hits Gulf Coast

Communities along the Gulf Coast are about to experience the worst of Hurricane Laura, a weather system that’s strengthened from a Category 1 storm to a Category 4 in the space of just 15 hours.

The huge size of the dangerous hurricane was captured in a set of dramatic images taken by American astronaut Chris Cassidy aboard the International Space Station 250 miles above Earth on Wednesday, August 26.

Views of Hurricane Laura taken from @Space_Station today. Stay safe everyone.

— Chris Cassidy (@Astro_SEAL) August 26, 2020

Laura is packing winds of up to 145 mph just ahead of making landfall, with the National Hurricane Center warning that the storm could cause “unsurvivable” storm surges, overwhelming flood defenses from eastern Texas to Louisiana.

Officials in the two states have issued evacuation orders for as many as half a million residents, a process that’s been made more complicated by coronavirus concerns.

For up-to-date information on the storm’s progression, people are advised to check local TV and radio broadcasts, while these apps and web services can also help.

Space station vantage point

Well above any weather systems but close enough to see them in detail, the space station offers an incredible vantage point for astronauts on board the orbiting outpost. NASA’s Chris Cassidy has been capturing dramatic images of recent storms as they bear down on various parts of the Americas, last week posting several pictures of Hurricane Genevieve as the extreme weather system came close to the Baja California peninsula.

Several years back, British astronaut Tim Peake revealed the camera kit that allows the space station crew to capture their amazing images of Earth. It includes five Nikon D4 bodies, as well as numerous lenses such as a Nikkor 14-24mm, f2.8; Nikkor 28mm, f1.4; Sigma 50-500mm, f4.5-6.3; Nikkor 400mm, f2.8; and Nikkor 800mm, f5.6.

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