Many Earth-observing satellites are keeping their eyes on Hurricane Irma, a Category 5 storm that will soon bear down on islands in the Caribbean Sea.
Irma is now a Category 5 hurricane, the highest possible ranking on the Saffir-Simpson scale. In a statement, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) called the storm "potentially catastrophic" and warned that "preparations should be rushed to completion in the hurricane warning area." [Hurricane Irma in Photos: Monster Storm Seen from Space]
The incredibly turbulent cloud system around the eye of the hurricane was captured in a short video taken earlier today (Sept. 5) by the GOES-16 Earth-observing satellite ("GOES" stands for "Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite"). As of 8 a.m. EDT (1200 GMT), the storm was about 270 miles (440 kilometers) east of Antigua and about 280 miles (445 km) east-southeast of Barbuda, according to a statement from NASA.
The storm is currently moving toward the Leeward Islands in the Caribbean at about 14 mph (22 km/h), with sustained winds now exceeding 175 mph (280 km/h), according to the statement. Irma is expected to remain a Category 4 or 5 hurricane for at least two to three days, NASA officials said.