NEW YORK — A viral forecast predicting Hurricane Irma will deal a devastating blow to an already ravaged Texas is fake.
Facebook user Joe Maley posted the graphic, emblazoned with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration logo, on social media.
The fake forecast shows Irma heading southwest of current, real, predictions, and barreling right into Texas, where Harvey, the hurricane-turned-storm, has left record rainfall, devastation and killed dozens.
Along with the graphic, Maley wrote, “Everyone needs to pay attention to Hurricane Irma. Shes predicted to come through mexico hit us and everything inbetween up to Houston. Shes already a Category 2 and hasnt even got into warm water yet.” (SIC throughout)
Maley’s forecast was shared nearly 37,000 times in 17 hours, BuzzFeed reports.
There are a slew of problems, in addition to the grammatical errors, that should tip people off to the graphic being a fake.
First, nothing on Maley’s page suggests he is a meteorologist. His Facebook's “about” section states he lives in Harlingen, Texas, and previously worked in the automotive industry. There are also no other recent weather-related posts.
Second, forecasts only go out five days in advance for such events, according to the National Weather Service, which appeared to speak directly to the fake with this tweet:
So what’s really going on with Hurricane Irma?
As of Saturday evening, Irma is a Category 2 hurricane moving west over the Atlantic at 15 mph, with 110 mph winds.
Several models predict a slew of paths for the hurricane, but it is not yet known if it will make landfall. It’s also not expected to slam Texas.
Irma will likely become a Category 4 hurricane, meaning it will deal a heavy blow if it reaches land.
A worst-case-scenario has it hitting Caribbean countries such as Puerto Rico, Haiti and the Dominican Republic before continuing northwest to the United States, where southeastern states could be hit.
The best-case-scenario? Hurricane Irma turns north and stays over the Atlantic.
Currently, nothing is certain — other than the viral graphic being a phony.
If Irma reaches land, it will occur toward the end of next week.
Anyone keeping an eye on the storm should only trust information reported directly from the NOAA, weather service or a meteorologist.
PIX11 will have the most current Hurricane Irma information online and on social media as it is made available.