A satellite captures a powerful, poetic portrait of Hurricane Fran It's one of nature's dark ironies that the most horrific expressions of its power are also the most beautiful. Think Mount St. Helens or a Pacific tsunami. Add to these Hurricane Fran, pinwheeling toward the U.S. last Wednesday at 1:15 p.m. EDT.

At the time, Fran was on her way to claiming at least 21 lives and doing probably more than $1 billion worth of damage. What makes this portrait remarkable is not just the violence it captures but also the method of capturing it. The image was snapped by the...

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