An astronaut captured an image of Tropical Storm Barry from space as it bears down on Louisiana

tropical storm barryNASA astronaut Christina Koch snapped a photo of Tropical Storm Barry from aboard the International Space Station on July 11, 2019.NASA/Christina Koch

When American astronaut Christina Koch looked out the window of the International Space Station (ISS) yesterday afternoon, she was met with the imposing sight of Tropical Storm Barry bearing down on the Gulf Coast.

She snapped a photo (above) of the storm from space.

Currently, Barry is forecast to make landfall near New Orleans tomorrow morning as a Category 1 hurricane. That would make it the region's first hurricane of 2019, and only the third hurricane ever recorded in July for the Gulf.

While Barry's winds are likely to be mild compared to other hurricanes, the tropical storm comes as Louisiana residents are already struggling with heavy rain, flash flooding, and higher-than-average Mississippi river levels.

Read More: A tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico could hit Louisiana as the year's first hurricane. It will put New Orleans' river levees to the test.

Looming clouds will bring heavy rainfall to the Gulf Coast

According to the National Hurricane Center, Barry is strengthening as it lumbers towards the Louisiana Coast; average wind speeds increased from 50 to 65 mph between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. local time today.

Other in-orbit satellites, including those belonging to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), are tracking Barry's progress over the Atlantic.

tropical storm barryNOAA's GOES-16 satellite captured an image of Tropical Storm Barry yesterday.National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

These trackers are forecasting extreme rainfall, between 15 and 30 inches, along the central Gulf Coast over the coming days, according to the National Weather Service.

The combination of river flooding, rain, and storm surge has experts warning New Orleans residents to prepare for a damaging storm.

"Any hurricane that hits you is a major hurricane for you," Mark Davis, a scientist at the Tulane Institute on Water Law and Policy in New Orleans, told Mashable. "A slow-moving, rain-producing storm can be every bit as damaging as a major hurricane."

The clouds that Koch saw from the ISS are also moving slowly, which gives heavy rainfall and stronger winds more time to plague Louisiana before the storm travels father over land and disperses. Over the past 70 years or so, the speed of hurricanes like Harvey and tropical storms like Barry has slowed about 10% on average, according to a 2018 study.

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