Astronaut Ed Lu snapped this oblique photo of Hurricane Isabel from the International Space Station on September 15, 2003 at 10:54 UTC. At the time, Isabel was heading for the east coast of the US . It had dropped to a Category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. After originating in the eastern Atlantic west of the Cape Verde Islands, Isabel became the second major hurricane of the 2003 Atlantic season when it was declared a Category 3 storm by the National Hurricane Center on September 8. Over the next four days, Isabel strengthened into an extremely powerful Category 5 hurricane with winds estimated at 160 mph before dropping in strength as it approached the US.
Why is this image unique?: These images taken obliquely provide both detail and vertical structure of the storm. Images like these have been used by researchers to characterize the bands of thunderstorms around the eye, and understand the short term dynamics of the storm.
These images were used by the National Hurricane Center, NOAA, the Weather channel and many other media organizations covering the news story.
ISS007-E-14887, ESC with a 50 mm lens, 15 September 2003, 10:54 UTC.
The Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth, http://eol.jsc.nasa.gov