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eye for an eye

Here’s why Irma is a monster hurricane, in one GIF.

The last Category 5 hurricane to make landfall in the United States was Andrew, which lashed South Florida with wind gusts of up to 177 miles per hour in 1992. It caused immense devastation and forever changed Florida’s approach to hurricanes.

Twenty-five years later, we have Hurricane Irma — a storm that could be even worse.

Twitter / @JoelNihlean

The above GIF, assembled from GOES satellite data by Joel Nihlean, combines images of the two hurricanes to compare them side-by-side to scale. Not only is Irma more powerful, it’s also much larger: One recent estimate showed that Irma packs more than five times Andrew’s destructive potential. Its hurricane-force winds cover an area roughly the size of Massachusetts.

Irma’s sustained winds are now 175 mph, with gusts reaching 210 mph. Meteorologists expect very little weakening before it makes landfall in Florida on Sunday. In a briefing on Thursday, the National Weather Service in Miami said that Irma could leave parts of South Florida “uninhabitable for weeks or months.”

Governor Rick Scott urged Florida residents to take the storm seriously, pointing out that Irma is “wider than our entire state.” Let’s hope they take his advice.