National Weather Service warns against ‘fake forecasts’
A fake weather forecast is making its way around social media that shows Hurricane Irma tracking directly toward the Texas/Louisiana Gulf coast.
The National Weather Service warned Friday that the storm warning is misleading.
— NWS (@NWS) September 1, 2017
Among the users sharing the false forecast, a Buzzfeed reporter on Twitter pointed out a public Facebook post shared more than 36,000 times.
“Everyone needs to pay attention to Hurricane Irma,” the post reads. “She’s predicted to come through Mexico, hit us and everything in between up to Houston. She’s already a Category 2 and hasn’t even got into warm water yet.”
Nearly 40,000 shares on this fake Irma forecast on Facebook. There is no actual threat to any land in next 5 days. pic.twitter.com/hwmuE5UwKn
— Jon Passantino (@passantino) September 1, 2017
Irma was upgraded to a Category 3 storm on Thursday with sustained winds of 115 miles per hour.
Early projections by the National Weather Service show the storm moving in the direction of the Caribbean, but stress it’s too early to accurately predict where the storm will make landfall.
The fake post appears to be authentic because it uses the official logo of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
U.S. code 2074 says those publishing false weather reports using a government logo are subject to imprisonment.
“Whoever knowingly issues or publishes any counterfeit weather forecast or warning of weather conditions falsely representing such forecast or warning to have been issued or published by the Weather Bureau, United States Signal Service, or other branch of the Government service, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ninety days, or both,” reads the code.
It won’t be more definitively known until next week where and when Irma will make landfall.