Irma's so strong it left part of ocean waterless

Irma's so strong it left part of ocean waterless
Posted at 11:04 AM, Sep 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-10 18:50:16-04

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Hurricane Irma, tied as the seventh-strongest storm in U.S. history, is so powerful it left part of the ocean waterless.

A video from the Bahamas shows the eerie scene:

A similar thing happened in Tampa, leaving vast stretches of the bay looking more like a desert:

Wayne Neely, a forecaster with the Bahamas Meteorological Office, said the phenomenon is rare but has happened several times before.

Irma's pressure is so low it basically sucks up water from the surrounding areas. Wind also pushes water away from shore, resulting in what the National Weather Service called a "negative surge."

RELATED: More explanation from the Washington Post

The storm made landfall in Florida at 9:10 a.m. Sunday with a minimum central pressure of 929 millibars. Atmospheric pressure is one of the major measurements meteorologists use to describe storms. The lower the pressure, the stronger the storm.

Only six storms on record had lower pressures when striking the United States, including Katrina. When Katrina hit in 2005, it had lower pressure but its wind speed kept it at Category 3.

The 929 pressure mark ties Irma with the deadly 1928 Lake Okeechobee hurricane.

Neely warned people to be careful about venturing out onto the sand where the ocean recedes: "the water often returns with even greater fury," he said. In Naples, Florida, the "negative surge" would quickly become a 10- to 15-foot storm surge, the National Weather Service warned.

(In case you wondered, yes: the water soon returned in those Bahamian beaches.)