Fact or fiction? 7 things you should know about Hurricane Irma
Remember the story about aliens landing during Hurricane Matthew, causing the planets to realign and puppies to explode? We don’t either, because it didn’t happen. But these are the kinds of hoaxes that tend to go viral during natural disasters.
With Irma threatening landfall over Florida this weekend, the amount of information strewn across the internet is enough to make any brain melt.
While some stories track Irma’s path and monitor storm damages, other stories might claim a shark is swimming on the highway.
Here’s a compilation of myths – and facts – about Irma that have been circulating the internet lately.
- Fact or Fiction: Hurricane Irma contains sharks because of its strength
FICTION: There have been no experts or media outlets supporting this claim. According to The New York Times, the Sharknado like scene is one of the most popular internet hoaxes to emerge during storms.
According to an article by TIME, fish tend to move deeper into the ocean during a storm and increase the activity of larger animals like sharks.
While some animals make it to deeper parts of the ocean, there are some instances where they end up in people’s pools or lawns, which may inspire the shark hoaxes and memes.
- Fact or Fiction: Irma has turned into a Category 6 storm
FICTION: Several blog posts have gone viral suggesting Hurricane Irma created its own category: a Category 6. However, the Weather Channel debunked the hoax, claiming a Category 6 storm does not exist.
It’s simple. Hurricanes are measured using the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, using a one to five rating based on hurricane wind speeds. According to The Weather Channel, hurricanes reaching winds of 157 miles per hour or higher (Category 5) have the same damages: catastrophic.
- Fact or Fiction: Irma was registered on seismometers
FACT: According to The Independent and USA Today, seismologist Stephen Hicks of the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom said low hums were recorded as Irma approached the seismometer on the island of Guadeloupe.
While the storm itself did not create an earthquake, Hicks said the noise was probably caused by high winds.
- Fact or Fiction: Zello walkie talkie app can be used in case of power outage
FICTION: The Zello walkie talkie app garnered attention after Hurricane Harvey, when reports of rescues were linked to the app.
With Hurricane Irma’s threat to South Florida, the storm has boosted downloads and Zello reigns as the most popular free app on Android and Apple app stores.
So, what’s the catch?
According to Zello’s official Twitter and Facebook accounts, Zello does not run without internet or phone service. The app requires internet services using Wi-Fi or cellular data of at least 2 gigabytes.
- Fact or Fiction: Hurricane Irma is one of the strongest hurricanes recorded in the Atlantic
FACT: Several media outlets including CNN, Fox and The New York Times have reported that Hurricane Irma is reported to be one of the strongest hurricanes recorded in the Atlantic.
Hurricane Irma has sustained winds of 185 miles per hour, maintaining a Category 5 status for more than 24 hours.
The National Hurricane Center tweeted, “Irma is the strongest hurricane in the Atlantic basin outside of the Caribbean Sea & Gulf of Mexico in NHC records hurricane.gov.”
- Fact or Fiction: Meteorologists can predict a storm’s exact path, days before its arrival
FICTION: As thousands of Floridians monitoring Irma’s path have noticed, the hurricane has changed its projected course multiple times. For example, the storms projection was leaning toward an East Coast hit and then quickly changed toward a possible West Coast landfall Thursday afternoon.
According to an article by News 5 WKRG in Mobile, Alabama, a common misconception is the idea that meteorologist can predict a storm’s exact path.
In the article, News 5 meteorologist John Nodar explains that hurricanes are monitored as far as 10 days out. The farther you’re monitoring, the more errors can accumulate, and a tiny error in the beginning can get bigger.
- Fact or Fiction: Taping windows will help protect them
FICTION: While many people will go to great lengths to save their home from the devastating winds of a hurricane, taping your windows is a huge mistake, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
By covering your windows with tape, you create larger projectiles of glass shards if debris breaks your windows.
FEMA advises against using tape to save windows, and suggests using shutters or using hurricane resistant windows instead.