For more than a week now, experts have predicted that Hurricane Irma will cause severe damage; it was even deemed one of the strongest storms ever to hit the Atlantic. However, no one predicted what would happen as Irma made its way through the Bahamas this weekend.
On Saturday, images and videos of the shores of Long Island, Bahamas revealed that Irma is so strong that, as meteorologist Angela Fritz said in an article for The Washington Post, “it’s literally sucking the water away from the shorelines.”
— #ForeverFlourish (@Kaydi_K) September 9, 2017
In response to the above footage, many people warned that the “disappearing” ocean is a sign that a tsunami is coming.
However, Fritz assured WaPo‘s readers that a tsunami is unlikely.
‘In any case, this isn’t the sign of a tsunami. The water will return to Long Island, and it probably won’t rush back with any great force. It will probably be back by Sunday afternoon.’
While a tsunami is not on the horizon, Fritz did note that the chances of the ocean being pulled away from the shore like this are “slim to none.”
‘As a meteorologist, there are things you learn in textbooks that you may never see in person. You know they happen theoretically, but the chances of seeing the most extraordinary weather phenomena are slim to none.’
She went on to explain why a phenomenon like this has occurred:
‘Basically, Hurricane Irma is so strong and its pressure is so low, it’s sucking water from its surroundings into the core of the storm.
‘The wind on Long Island in the Bahamas is from the southeast to the northwest on Saturday. On the northwest side of the island, it would be blowing the water away from the shoreline.’
Fritz also noted that the ocean may be experiencing the effects of what she calls the hurricane “bulge.” She described this situation as follows:
‘In the center of the storm, where there is extreme low pressure, water is drawn upward. Low pressure is basically a sucking mechanism — it sucks the air into it, and when it’s really low, it can change the shape of the surface of the ocean. As the storm draws water toward the center, it gets pulled away from the surroundings.’
Hurricane Irma is now headed toward Florida. The state’s governor, Rick Scott, said on Saturday evening that 76,000 people were without power and that outages are expected to grow. He also warned residents that, if they have been ordered to evacuate, now is “the last chance they will have to make a good decision.”
Featured image via ADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images.