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Space station astronaut captures images of Hurricane Igor and Hurricane Julia

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010 7:43pm MST

Hurricane Igor is scene in this view from the International Space Station.  See more images in the slideshow below.

Hurricane Igor is scene in this view from the International Space Station. See more images in the slideshow below.

A truly rare event is occurring in the Atlantic Ocean where for the first time in 84 years two Category 4 hurricanes are churning at the same time. Yesterday astronaut Douglas Wheelcock snapped stunning images of Hurricane Igor and Hurricane Julia from his perch 220 miles above the Earth aboard the International Space Station.

  • View the pictures in the slideshow below

Anthony Watts of the popular website Watts Up With That? determined that only three times in the past have two major hurricanes (defined as Category 3 or higher) occurred at the same time.

Given that Igor and Julia are now both Category 4 storms with 135 mph winds, two storms of that strength occurring simultaneously has only happened once – on September 26, 1926.

Of greatest immediate concern is Hurricane Igor. The storm is currently 540 miles east-northeast of St. Martin and appears to be headed for a direct strike on Bermuda sometime Sunday night.

Hurricane Julia is much farther east, approximately 500 miles west of the Cape Verde islands. Julia’s forecast path has her turning to the north and, hopefully, not presenting a danger to land.

The Expedition 24 crew on board the International Space Station includes West Point graduate and Army colonel Douglas Wheelcock. During his time on board the ISS, Wheelcock has captured some astounding images and posted them to Twitter, including photos of Hurricane Earl two weeks ago.

The new images posted today were snapped over the past 24 hours as the ISS passed over the storms. The image of Hurricane Igor is arguably the most impressive as it provides a clear view vertically down into and through the eye of the storm.

The slideshow below from the Natural Disasters Examiner contains the images taken by Colonel Wheelcock as well as images of previous hurricanes taken by International Space Station and Space Shuttle crews and NASA satellites.

Hurricanes from space - Nature's fury seen from on high

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