Track Hurricane Laura Live from Space as Terrifying Satellite Images Show Vast Scale of Storm

As the "unsurvivable" hurricane Laura hits Louisiana, satellite images show the scale of the storm that is expected to cause "catastrophic" damage in multiple states.

Data and visualization feeds maintained by scientists and meteorologists can be used to track the storm's speed, strength and direction, and there are multiple official sources of information that may prove useful to concerned citizens or weather-watchers.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) has warned anyone in the Gulf of Mexico region that is forecast to face the Category 4 hurricane should "take cover now!" and warned conditions—storm surges and 150mph winds—will be "life-threatening."

Areas in Cameron Parish, Louisiana, are now predicted to see surges of water that could reach between 15 and 20 feet high, one of the latest advisories said. More than 500,000 residents of Louisiana and Texas have been asked to evacuate their homes.

How to monitor and track Hurricane Laura:

The most recent storm updates can be found via the National Hurricane Center website and its Twitter feed. Detailed advisories on the direction of Laura are also being posted by the National Weather Service and its associated social media accounts.

In terms of live visuals, the storm can also be tracked in as close as possible to real-time using imagery obtained from the GOES Geostationary Satellite, which shows updates in loops, rather than an actual live-feed being beamed down to earth.

A similar looped approach is used by the tool published by the Regional and Mesoscale Meteorology Branch (RAMMB). A collection of data including short satellite clips and advisories and can also be found via the hurricane tracking website Cyclocane.

Additional trackers can help track the positioning and strength of Laura as it progresses, including Hurricane Aware by Esri and a map being updated by AccuWeather.

National Hurricane Center: Read all the latest advisories.

The Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere (CIRA) shared satellite scans on Twitter showing the eye of the hurricane and lightning strikes sparked inside it.

NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy, who is onboard the International Space Station, also shared a series of images showing the view of the storm from the skies above.

The photos show a swirling vortex as it was heading for the coastline, helping visualize the size of a vast hurricane.

NASA released images taken by its Terra satellite on August 26 at 12:20 p.m. as the storm neared the coast. Another image, taken by the NOAA-20 satellite, showed the temperature readings of the hurricane.

"Laura underwent a period of rapid intensification as it passed over the warm Gulf waters, with winds intensifying by 50 miles (80 kilometers) per hour over a 24-hour period," the U.S. space agency said in a blog post, releasing its findings.

According to the National Hurricane Center's latest readings, Laura will be moving north, with that trajectory expected to continue throughout the day. Forecasting predicts it will move across southwestern Louisiana today before spreading northward across the state. Tonight, the center of the storm should pass over Arkansas, followed by Mississippi Valley on Friday and the mid-Atlantic states on Saturday.

Hurricane Center officials said: "Treat these imminent extreme winds as if a tornado was approaching and move immediately to the safe room in your shelter.

"Take action now to protect your life! The safest place to be during a major landfalling hurricane is in a reinforced interior room away from windows. Get under a table or a piece of sturdy furniture. Use mattresses, blankets or pillows to cover your head and body. Remain in place through the passage of these life-threatening conditions."

Weather-watchers say several tornadoes should be expected overnight over Louisiana, far southeast Texas, and southwestern Mississippi. Storm surges—massive rising of water—remain one of the most dangerous aspects of the storm, experts say.

"To think that there would be a wall of water over two storeys high coming on shore is very difficult for most to conceive, but that is what is going to happen," explained NWS meteorologist Benjamin Schott, the BBC reported. "The word 'unsurvivable' is not one that we like to use, and it's one that I've never used before."

The NHC has warned the storm surge "could penetrate up to 40 miles inland from the immediate coastline" and waters may not recede for "several days after the storm."

As multiple states brace for the impact, experts agree the impact of hurricane Laura will be extremely severe, with wind speeds that are rarely recorded. "Southwest Louisiana will never be the same after this," meteorologist Eric Holthaus wrote on Twitter.

NASA satelitte image of Hurricane Laura
The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on NOAA-20 acquired this image of Hurricane Laura at 2:20 a.m. Central Daylight Time on August 26, 2020. NASA
Track Hurricane Laura Live from Space as Terrifying Satellite Images Show Vast Scale of Storm | Tech & Science