As Fake Images Of Hurricane Irma Go Viral, Here’s What We Really Know

Meteorologists have the answers. 

As Texas continues to struggle in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey’s devastation, the news of another tropical storm-turned-hurricane moving west over the Atlantic has renewed fears in the U.S. But weather experts are warning people not to believe fake images about Hurricane Irma that portray its path moving rapidly towards the U.S.

According to meteorologists, it’s too soon to tell where — or if — Hurricane Irma will land on the U.S. coast, but that hasn’t stopped fake images of its projected path from going viral.

On Friday, Buzzfeed reported that a fake image of Hurricane Irma was circulating on Facebook via Joe Maley. The post has since come down, but not before being shared over 30,000 times.

A fake image of Hurricane Irma that went viral on Facebook.

For whatever reason, fakery that seeds people’s anxieties during massive weather events is nothing new to the internet. On August 28, Inverse reported on a number of inaccurate photos that were circulating around the web purporting to be images from Hurricane Harvey. Airplanes submerged in water and renegade alligators make for many a re-tweet, as does a map of another imminent storm — even if it’s not true.

Here’s what we do know about Hurricane Irma. By September 5, Irma had become classified as a Category 5 hurricane — the highest classification possible. This implies the storm has sustained winds exceeding 156 mph. On Tuesday, the Weather Network reported that Irma’s maximum winds have reached 185 mph and will move west-northwest toward Puerto Rico and surrounding islands over the next five days.

An image, via the Weather Network, of Hurricane Irma's location on Saturday.

The Weather Network

In addition to Puerto Rico, the northern Leeward Islands and the Virgin Islands have all been issued hurricane warnings.

It’s not clear yet whether the storm will hit the southeast United States, but if it does, it will likely happen this weekend or early next week, and it will probably make landfall in south Florida on Saturday.

Editor’s Note: As of 4:18 p.m. Eastern, 9/5/2017, this story has been updated to reflect the most current information about Irma.

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