Hurricane Irma had the Caribbean and Unites States in its sights for about two weeks before making landfall. As a rapidly strengthening storm in the eastern Atlantic, weather forecasters knew the storm would be powerful.
But not many people could predict what the storm did to the ocean surrounding a few small Bahamian islands.
A viral video posted to social media on Saturday shows how powerful the category 5 hurricane was when it plowed through the Caribbean.
The video, posted by user @Kaydi_K, shows the ocean around the Bahamian island of Long Island literally gone — so gone that the user walked on the ocean floor.
“I am in disbelief right now… This is Long Island, Bahamas and the ocean water is missing!!! That’s as far as they see #HurricaneIrma wtf,” the user wrote.
— #ForeverFlourish (@Kaydi_K) September 9, 2017
It’s hard to believe that a storm would be so strong that it could remove the water surrounding an island, but the phenomenon is true.
According to Angela Fritz, deputy weather editor at the Washington Post, Irma is so strong that it has the power to change the shape of the ocean.
“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,” she wrote.
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.
It also may be experiencing the effects of what I call the hurricane “bulge.” 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.
Fortunately, Fritz explained the phenomenon isn’t a sign of a tsunami, which pull water from the shore before crashing back into it. She also said the water will most likely return without any great force sometime Sunday afternoon.
Irma made landfall over the Florida Keys Sunday morning as a category 4 storm.