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Typhoon Bopha stirs awe from space


The storm clouds of Typhoon Bopha form a spiral far below the International Space Station in a photo captured on Sunday. The storm gained strength Monday, turning into a super typhoon with sustained winds greater than 150 mph. That's the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center reported.

The awesome power of Typhoon Bopha was in full view of the International Space Station over the weekend, and since then the Pacific storm has strengthened to super typhoon status with sustained winds greater than 150 mph (240 kilometers per hour). The storm was headed for the Philippines, where memories of last year's killer storm are still fresh.

"The potential destruction of this typhoon is no joke," Reuters quoted Philippine President Benigno Aquino as saying in a nationally broadcast address. Thousands of residents of coastal and mountain regions were evacuated in advance of the storm.

Bopha is expected to make landfall on the southern island of Mindanao within hours. The same region was hit last year by Tropical Storm Washi, which killed more than 1,000 people and displaced more than 60,000. This time around, the storm's winds are more than twice as strong, qualifying Bopha as the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane.

The Joint Typhoon Warning Center said waves reached heights of up to 52 feet at sea near the storm, and the width of the storm system was estimated at 370 miles (600 kilometers). Keep an eye on The Weather Channel's Hurricane Central as the storm proceeds. And for more imagery from NASA, keep an eye on the agency's Hurricane Resource Page as well as Goddard Space Flight Center's Flickr photostream.


Typhoon Bopha swirls hundreds of miles below the International Space Station on Sunday, in a photo taken by one of the astronauts on board. A piece of Russian hardware is visible in the foreground at upper right, bearing the words "Mission Control" in Russian.

CIMSS / NASA / NOAA / UW-Madison

A false-color infrared image, captured today by the Suomi NPP satellite, shows details of Super Typhoon Bopha's structure. For more typhoon imagery of the storm from Suomi NPP, check out the University of Wisconsin's CIMSS Satellite Blog.

More views of Earth from space:

Alan Boyle is NBCNews.com's science editor. Connect with the Cosmic Log community by "liking" the log's Facebook page, following @b0yle on Twitter and adding the Cosmic Log page to your Google+ presence. To keep up with Cosmic Log as well as NBCNews.com's other science and space news coverage, sign up for the Tech & Science newsletter, delivered via email. You can also check out "The Case for Pluto," my book about the controversial dwarf planet and the search for new worlds.