US ASTRONAUT Richard Arnold has tweeted two terrifying images from space of Hurricane Lane as it swirled and spiralled toward the Hawaiian Islands.
“#HurricaneLane in the early morning hours near #Hawaii” tweeted Arnold, who is aboard the International Space Station orbiting 402 kilometres above the Earth.
“The crew of the @Space_Station sends much aloha to everyone there.”
His tweet has been shared thousands of times, offering those on social media a unique view of the mammoth Category 4 storm, which is now in striking distance of Hawaii, according to the latest US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) cyclone update.
The two images show the hurricane’s vast grey mass blanketing the ocean below it.
Forecasters say Hurricane Lane shifted course and is now moving closer to Hawaii.
According to CNN, already more than 19 inches of rain fell on a northeastern section of Hawaii’s Big Island during a 24-hour period, as Hurricane Lane drew nearer to the Aloha State.
The outer bands of the Category 4 cyclone pommeled the Big Island yesterday, triggering landslides and causing flooding that forced officials to close some roads.
The centre of the storm, which could become the first major cyclone to make landfall in the state in 26 years, is expected to move very close to the main islands or cross land through Friday, the Central Pacific Hurricane Center said.
— Ricky Arnold (@astro_ricky)
US President Donald Trump said he authorised an emergency disaster declaration to provide support to Hawaii.
“Our teams are closely co-ordinating with the state and local authorities,” he tweeted Thursday. “You are in our thoughts!”
Weather authorities said Hurricane Lane had weakened slightly to a Category 4 storm but was still packing maximum sustained winds of 215 kilometres per hour, threatening torrential rain, high winds and dangerous surf.
The administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said the government had positioned generators and other aid in Hawaii well before the anticipated arrival of Hurricane Lane.
After Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico last year, a FEMA report noted that one of its main issues was not having enough generators and other emergency aid on the island before the storm.
FEMA said the agency has been talking with grocers to make sure food sources are stocked.