An eerie and ominous picture of Tropical Storm Isaac supposedly coming ashore in New Orleans has gone viral on the Internet, with the image being retweeted on Twitter thousands of times since the weekend. The photo, however, is a total fake, according to meteorologists.
The image of dense and low-lying clouds coming ashore somewhere periodically emerges on the Web every time there are reports of severe weather, as is now the case with Isaac, weather experts from a local Tampa Bay news station have said.
"It is a Photoshopped picture of a supercell thunderstorm that seems to pop up with a new foreground every time there is a hurricane threat anywhere," according to Bay News 9 Meteorologist Josh Linker.
Brian McClure, also a Bay News 9 Meteorologist concurred, saying, "I've seen versions of that photo since at least 2005."
It was unclear exactly who first linked the supercell thunderstorm image to Tropical Storm Isaac, but at least one Twitter user has been taking advantage of the photo to perhaps snag new followers.
The user tweeted the fake "Hurricane Isaac" photo with the caption: "A picture of Hurricane #Isaac, near New Orleans right now. Just monstrous. PLEASE PRAY. R-T TO GET THE WORLD OUT."
Others on Twitter, apparently stunned by the threatening clouds presented in the photo, have indeed retweeted the fake "Hurricane Isaac" picture nearly 3,000 times since Sunday.
Other images of Isaac, albeit authentic ones, have been making the rounds on social networks, with one particular photo captured by NASA also attracting views.
Beth Beck, NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Outreach Manager, shared on Monday an image of Isaac captured from space with the caption: "Space Station 'astro-eyes on Earth' view of angry hurricane."
As of Tuesday morning, Tropical Storm Isaac was still expected to gain hurricane-strength and make landfall in New Orleans sometime today or by Wednesday morning, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Isaac, reportedly positioned about 105 miles southeast of New Orleans with sustained winds of 70 mph at press time, comes seven years after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast and New Orleans.The city's levee system has since been fortified, and officials hope to avoid a repeat of the Aug. 29, 2005 storm that killed more than 1,800 people, caused billions in damage and displaced thousands of residents, many of whom have yet to fully recover from the storm.