'Fake Weather' prominent during 2017 hurricane season

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By: Charles Roop | WCTV Pinpoint Weather
May 31, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) —For the last few years, there has been a phrase uttered by those in political circles.

“Fake news.”

But it's not just news. It’s weather, too. And there was a flood of it during the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season. Posts on the web and social media included fake or misleading videos, images, and forecasts. 

For instance, an image floated around Facebook looking like an official forecast of Hurricane Irma from the National Hurricane Center. The map depicted the hurricane making its way to Texas two weeks out. But that should have been a red flag because it was not real.  It was altered. The real NHC forecasts only go out to five days. 

“In terms of seven to ten days out, we really don't have that type of knowledge,” said Tyler Fricker, a Ph.D. candidate at Florida State University who studies societal impacts from weather.

But it didn’t stop there in 2017. There were plenty of other fake posts.

"You'll get the doomsday - this is going to be horrible...This is going to be the worst you'll ever see,” Fricker noted as another example.

One story from a fake news site claimed that Irma would become a category six storm. Yep - category six. That would be a first because no such category exists.

But, wait. There’s more.

There were claims floating around that hurricanes are geo-engineered. A social media post claimed that storms like Harvey and Irma were programmed to attack the United States. Yea, no. That’s doesn’t happen. It’s fiction.

"It's hard enough to not just forecast hurricanes,” Fricker said. “It's another thing to add this layer of we have to go to the public and reassure them that this is not the path. So, it just makes everyone work harder."

Given all the flow of good information - and bad - it begs the question: Who should you trust? Well, there’s always our forecasts from the Pinpoint Weather Team. You can also look to others who are experienced and have a proven track record. 

"If you are on Twitter, I want a blue check. At least I want to know that the person behind that the person behind that Twitter handle works at a university or works in that field." 

Doing a bit of research, along with the ability to sniff out the bad, will lead you to accurate information and a forecast this season.

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