(NEXSTAR) – As Florida braces for Hurricane Ian’s impact on the ground, astronauts on the International Space Station got a view of the huge storm from up above.
The space station recorded video Monday showing the dense, spinning clouds over the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. The hurricane covers so much ground, parts of it disappear from view due to the curvature of the Earth.
Another view from space, taken from a satellite, shows the storm barreling toward Cuba. An outer ring of clouds already obscures the view of southern Florida.
Hurricane Ian, currently a Category 3 storm, hit Cuba’s Pinar del Rio province early Tuesday morning. It is expected to strengthen even more after it passes over the country and the Gulf of Mexico.
Ian is expected to make landfall on Florida’s west coast as a Category 4 as early as Wednesday.
The effects of the storm could be felt even sooner, with tropical storm-force winds forecast to reach the tip of Florida by 8 p.m. Tuesday night.
It’s not just winds that are a concern – the NHC warned “life-threatening storm surge” was possible along Florida’s west coast, especially between Fort Myers and Tampa. A surge of up to 10 feet of ocean water and 10 inches of rain was predicted across the Tampa Bay area, with as much as 15 inches in isolated areas. That’s enough water to inundate coastal communities.
Tampa and St. Petersburg appeared to be among the most likely targets for their first direct hit by a major hurricane since 1921.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.