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This 3D image from NASA’s Global Precipitation Measurement mission (GPM) satellite captured Irma as it swelled over the West Indies. GPM’s radar systems showed rain falling at 10.8 inches per hour.

The category 5 storm is expected to make landfall in Florida this weekend. At least seven people have died and thousands more are homeless after the storm rocked the Caribbean. 

Hurricane Irma sweeps towards Atlantic coast 

Hurricanes, like Irma, lose potency when winds near the ocean surface blow at one speed and direction while winds in the upper atmosphere blow another. This difference — or shear — causes a hurricane to physically tilt, like a top, which dampens the force of the winds emanating from it.

“Right now, the shears are pretty low, and as you can see the storm looks pretty symmetrical,” Philip Klotzbach, an atmospheric scientist at Colorado State University, told the NewsHour.