The ingredients were looking good for storm developing for days
Every year each weather system, someone somewhere on the internet feels the best course of action in his life is to go and find some images of a severe weather event completely unrelated or from years prior and to pass it off as an eyewitness report from the current system. Unfortunately before long, this sad soul has had his post shared a few hundred thousand times and so the spread of misinformation reaches viral levels, with many people grabbing the bait hook line and sinker, regardless of how fake it may seem to even those with minimal weather knowledge.
Today has seen several images doing the round and adding to that spread of misinformation, so be sure you’re not one of those sharing this false information – and if you already have, you can always delete the post that you’ve shared.
The most obvious and yet most shared fake post today is the collection of images that suggest Cape Town (Sea Point) experienced frozen waters and conditions cold enough to freeze the break water that made it on to the shore. These images ARE NOT of Cape Town, and were taken nearly 10 years ago during a cold winter storm in Russia. Cape Town has never, nor in all likelihood will never get to experience those conditions. The temperatures and conditions required to freeze the oceans around Cape Town is something the Cape will in all likelihood never experience. You can see one of the original posts showing these images, posted in 2006.
While cases like these are very easy to spot as fake, there are other cases which aren’t so obvious – and in fact can even trick yours truly. Earlier today there were reports of storm surge flooding at Strand Beach with some images shared. I went to go follow up personally later in the evening and 2 hours after the spring high, I saw some cases of heavy flooding along Beach Road Strand. I then came across an image of social media of the same area under water, and shared it assuming it as fact (first mistake!). A quick Google reverse image search quickly showed that the image was in fact from an event in 2013, and the share was pulled off our Facebook page. Despite the image being similar to what was actually present earlier this afternoon, it was an old image and gave a false representation of the experienced conditions.
Lesson learned the hard way. Before sharing any significant weather event images – it may be best to run them through Google’s Reverse Image Search and make sure they are not old, rehashed images or images from other parts of the world.