Hurricane Matthew’s deadly rampage across the Caribbean and up Florida’s coast has kept satellite operators completely engrossed over the past week, as they rush to process more and more jaw-dropping images of our waking meteorological nightmare.

We’ve collected a few of Matthew’s best photos here, in semi-chronological order. This, my friends, is the biography of a monster.

September 28th, 2016: Matthew sputtered to life as a puny tropical storm just east of the Lesser Antilles. Little did anyone know what it would soon be capable of.

Image: NASA Goddard MODIS Rapid Response Team

September 30th, 2016: Very suddenly, Matthew strengthened into a major, Category 3 hurricane. Meteorologists started paying attention.

Image: NASA/NOAA GOES Project

September 30th, 2016....later: Matthew’s rapid rise to Category 3 status was just the beginning. It continued to gain strength on the evening of the 30th, stunning meteorologists as it approached Category 5 status around midnight. It became one of the three most rapidly intensifying storms in Atlantic hurricane history.

October 3rd, 2016: Matthew cooled off a bit over the weekend, dialing back to a Category 4 as it started to take aim for Haiti. Here it is looking organized and battle-ready just 220 miles southeast of Kingston.

Image: NOAA

October 2nd - 4th: NASA watched closely as Matthew rumbled toward Haiti over the course of several days. A menacing time lapse turns the storm’s relatively slow, northward march into a furious Caribbean invasion.

Image: NASA/NOAA GOES Project

October 4th, 2016: Hurricane Matthew unleashed Category 4 fury as it made landfall over Haiti; 140 mph winds flattened tens of thousands of homes. It’s still unclear just how bad the damage is, but suffice to say this is the nation’s worst humanitarian crisis since the 2010 earthquake.

Image: NASA Earth Observatory

October 5th, 2016: After losing a little of its edge during its trek over mountainous Haiti and eastern Cuba, Matthew barreled on toward the Bahamas, still large enough to pose a serious threat.

Image: NOAA/NASA Goddard Rapid Response Team

October 5th-6th, 2016: Regaining some of its lost strength as it crossed over the record-warm Bahamas, Matthew spiraled toward Florida’s coast yesterday as a deadly Category 4. More than two million people were told to evacuate, or die.


This time-lapse animation was built from images of the storm taken every 30 minutes, from the morning of October 5th through the morning of the 6th.

Image: NASA Earth Observatory

October 7th, 2016: As Hurricane Matthew veered up Florida’s coast today (and was mercifully downgraded to a Category 3), a new tropical storm, Nicole, was starting to get organized out to the east. According to NASA, the dynamic duo have set a new late-season record for Atlantic storms.

Image: NASA/NOAA GOES Project

October 7th, 2016: If you really want some perspective on what a leviathan Matthew is, you’ve got to take the long view. Wow.