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As a Hurricane, Earl Looked Like 'Magnificent Chaos' From Space

The formerHurricane Earl put on a striking weather display for astronauts on theInternational Space Station, impressing the crew with its strength even as itweakened to a tropical storm.

Americanastronaut Douglas Wheelock captured a weakening Earl earlier this week as the spacestation orbited 220 miles (354 km) above Earth. By Saturday, the hurricane had weakened to a tropicalstorm while moving north along the eastern U.S. coast. [Newphoto of Earl from space station.]

"Justmoments after the previous photo ? caught this image of the eye of the storm aswe flew over HurricaneEarl just to the east," Wheelock wrote Friday on Twitter, where heposted the photo. "It looks like magnificent chaos from up here on theSpace Station ? an incredibly breathtaking sight to see this storm."

During thishurricane season, Wheelock has been photographing major storms as they appearin the space station's windows and posting the pictures on Twitter, where hewrites under the name Astro_Wheels. He's shared shotsof Earl and Hurricane Danielle.

Earlier this week, the threeAmericans and three Russians aboard the space station were able to watch Earldevelop and intensifyinto a Category 4 beast with winds topping 135 mph (217 kph). But from the stationhigh above Earth, all that strength and violence was hard to appreciate.

"[Earl] looks pretty from up here,"said American astronaut Shannon Walker in a televised interview from the spacestation on Thursday. "But we know there's a lot of potential destructionassociated with it, underneath the clouds, that we can't see."

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Mike Wall
Mike Wall

Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with (opens in new tab) and joined the team in 2010. He primarily covers exoplanets, spaceflight and military space, but has been known to dabble in the space art beat. His book about the search for alien life, "Out There," was published on Nov. 13, 2018. Before becoming a science writer, Michael worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Michael on Twitter.