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Hurricane Irene video by NASA astronaut

Hurricane Irene was captured on video and in photos from the International Space Station by US astronaut Ron Garan.

By Space.com / August 23, 2011

Hurricane Irene was photographed from the International Space Station by US astronaut Ron Garan on Aug. 22.

NASA/Ron Garan

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As Hurricane Irene nears the United States, an American astronaut has snapped a stunning view of the powerful storm from space.

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NASA astronaut Ron Garan photographed the Category 2 hurricane Monday (Aug. 22) while gazing down on Earth from the International Space Station, which he and five other spaceflyers currently call home.

"Hurricane #Irene #FromSpace as it passed though the Caribbean yesterday (8/22/11) @ 7:34pm GMT," Garan wrote in a Twitter post that accompanied the photo. "Plz Be Prepared." Garan posts updates about life on the space station 220 miles (354 kilometers) under the name @Astro_Ron. [See Ron Garan's photos of Hurricane Irene and Earth]

Hurricane Irene is the first hurricane to form during the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season, which began on June 1. It is currently a Category 2 type storm on the Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane strength, with wind speeds of about 100 mph (160 kph).

Irene is poised to become a major hurricane today (Aug. 23) or tomorrow.

Several weather satellites in orbit have been tracking Hurricane Irene, beaming down amazing images of the powerful storm. Video cameras on the International Space Station have also caught views of the hurricane. [Video: Hurricane Irene Seen From Space Station]

There have been nine named storms this hurricane season (including Irene), but all the previous tempests remained tropical storms (defined as having winds between 39 and 73 mph, or 63 and 118 kph).

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