This Map Shows How an Overheated Ocean Made Irma a Monster

Warming has fueled one of the most powerful Atlantic storms to threaten the United States in recorded history.

Like Hurricane Andrew in 1992, Irma lost strength as it lashed the Caribbean—but could regain its force before reaching Florida. Andrew weakened before making landfall in the Bahamas but then rapidly regained Category 5 status before it struck just south of Homestead, Florida.

This map shows where Irma will pass through warmer waters before making landfall. Warm water fuels the updrafts that lower barometric pressure inside the storm, creating stronger winds.

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