Hurricane Irma is now a category 5 hurricane with sustained winds of 185 mph according to the National Hurricane Center. This is one of the strongest hurricanes in recorded history in the Atlantic. In fact, Irma is so strong that the hurricane is registering as earthquakes on seismometers (equipment that measures earthquakes) in Guadeloupe.
So why is this happening? According to Stephen Hicks (a seismologist at the University of Southampton), noise caused by the high winds and the movement of trees-transferring energy into the ground registers as low-pitch sounds that show up as small earthquakes. Some of the seismometers are also located close to the shoreline and can become contaminated (false earthquakes) by large waves generated by Irma. The frequency of the ‘earthquakes’ will increase as Irma nears land and grows in intensity.
Tweets from Stephen Hicks about Irma registering as earthquakes
It should be noted, Irma is not causing actual earthquakes. Earthquakes occur below the surface and there is no research showing a correlation between tropical cyclones and earthquakes. During intense tropical cyclones, it is common to see seismometers register earthquakes due to the winds associated with the tropical cyclone.
Please check back this evening for an updated forecast on Hurricane Irma.