How strong is Hurricane Irma? It’s registering on earthquake-detecting seismometers

Satellite view of Hurricane Irma's eye as it ravages through the Atlantic

Satellite view of Hurricane Irma's eye as it ravages in the Atlantic on Sept. 5, 2017.
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Satellite view of Hurricane Irma's eye as it ravages in the Atlantic on Sept. 5, 2017.

Hurricane Irma is the strongest storm forecasters have ever seen develop in the Atlantic—and it’s so intense that scientific instruments have started confusing it with another terrifying natural disaster: earthquakes.

On Tuesday, just as forecasters upgraded Irma to a Category 5 storm, scientists started picking up background noise from the storm on their earthquake-detecting seismometers, according to the Independent.

Winds battering trees, giant ocean waves and other sounds that Hurricane Irma has unleashed on islands like Guadeloupe are what made it possible for earthquake-measuring devices to pick up the storm.

The storm’s winds have already topped 180 miles per hour, according to Newsweek, generating noise and chaos as the storm bears down on the Caribbean.

But perhaps it’s not shocking that Irma is testing the boundaries of natural disasters: Earlier Tuesday, the National Hurricane Center confirmed that still-developing Irma is the strongest storm it’s ever recorded in the Atlantic basin.

The National Hurricane Center says those in the path of the storm should brace for “potentially life-threatening winds, storm surge and rainfall hazards” as the storm makes landfall on Caribbean islands this week and approaches the U.S. in days ahead.

The National Hurricane Center adds that the odds Irma hits Florida as have increased, according to Newsweek, but it’s still too soon to say exactly what impact it will have on the state—or where the hurricane could head after that.

Florida and Puerto Rico have already declared states of emergency ahead of the storm, and are preparing for the worst.

“Hurricane Irma is a major and life-threatening storm, and Florida must be prepared,” Florida Governor Rick Scott (R) said at a press conference this week. “In Florida, we always prepare for the worst and hope for the best, and while the exact path of Irma is not absolutely known at this time, we cannot afford to not be prepared.”

Irma has already exceeded Harvey, which struck southeast Texas last month, in strength—as well as surpassing memorable, devastating storms like Katrina and Andrew in strength. Katrina and Andrew’s winds topped out at 175 miles per hours, according to The Washington Post. Irma has hit 185.

And the storm is big, too.

For perspective, it would easily eclipse the entire state of Ohio on a map: