Not to add to the level of fright surrounding Hurricane Irma – currently barreling toward Florida – but the hurricane is so powerful that it’s confusing seismographs into thinking it’s an earthquake.
According to seismologist Stephen Hicks at the National Oceanography Center Southampton, seismometer recordings from an island group in the south Caribbean sea show Cat 5 Irma’s impact is mimicking a tectonic disturbance.
— Stephen Hicks (@seismo_steve) September 5, 2017
Hicks clarified that waves crashing upon the shore, and trees blowing in the wind are transferring enough energy into the ground to cause the readings to mimic an earthquake according to the Independent. According to Hicks, this “background noise” often happens with major storms. It was last seen in Houston during Hurricane Harvey as well.
“We saw this for Hurricane Harvey on seismometers located close to Houston,” Hicks told USA Today.
Hicks added that as the hurricane nears American shores “we will see a dramatic increase in the amplitude of the seismic recordings.”
Irma’s growth and power is such that it is now larger than the state of Florida itself – matching the size of Texas – according to weather specialists.
— Bryan Norcross (@TWCBryan) September 5, 2017
— Brian James (@BrianJamesNBC5) September 5, 2017
Irma may have already caused an extreme amount of damage. According to CNN, officials have not been able to make contact with the tiny island of Barbuda for hours now.
— CNN (@CNN) September 6, 2017