Tornadoes and Katrina: the totally fake news from Cape Town’s storm

cape town storm fake news tornado

If you’re reading this piece, good for you. It means that you’re actively searching for the truth among the steaming pile of manure that is “fact” on social media.

There have been a number of fake images and videos circulating on social media during the intense cold front currently lashing Cape Town and surrounds. Thanks to swelling public interactions, they’ve also gone viral. And that’s not a good thing.

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Considering the severity of the storm — the fact that people are now homeless in the likes of Imizamo Yethu, Khayelitsha and Mfuleni — should be more than enough reason for people to not share fabricated content about the storm.

Still not enough? At least five people have died in Cape Town as a result of the storm.

Here’s a list of debunked images and videos we’ve found circulating on Facebook and Twitter thus far.

No, there was no ‘tornado’ on Signal Hill today

…or a “funnel cloud” either.

A video purportedly taken of Signal Hill around 9.15am on Wednesday depicted a swirling mass of cloud between Lion’s Rump and Lion’s Head.

This is arguably one of the sneakiest ‘shops we’ve seen, but some community members on Twitter — who stare at the mountain all day — quickly attacked its authenticity. AfricaCheck later confirmed that the video is fake after the original poster unashamedly admitted that it was indeed bogus.

He seemed quite chuffed with himself too.

This was Hurricane Katrina, not the Cape Town storm

New Orleans and Cape Town are 13 000km apart.

Rather aptly, the picture itself seems well travelled too, appearing on both Instagram, and Twitter.

A quick reverse image search on TinEye however reveals that it was taken much earlier than Cape Town’s June 2017 storm.

In fact, it’s a snap that dates back to 2005’s horror storm in the Gulf of Mexico still regarded as one of the worst storms to strike the United States mainland.

Hurricane Katrina also packed winds of 220km/h. Cape Town’s cold front is barely pushing 90km/h.

There was still no tornado in Cape Town today

A ten-second clip of what seems to be a tornado ripping through Cape Town’s CBD is also currently doing the rounds on social media.

First seen yesterday, the video has since been reshared and reposted across YouTube, and has also made its way to Twitter.

The clip is however (sorry urban storm chasers) fabricated. The South African Weather Service, City of Cape Town or SANDF hasn’t made a squeak regarding a swirling mass of air and debris in the centre of the city. And one might’ve thought that they would… don’t you think?

A quick glance on Twitter, Facebook and the services’ official websites reveal no news of weather anomalies spotted in Cape Town’s CBD or surrounds.

We’re also pretty sure that genuine tornadoes also have more pixels.

This is a picture of Strand Beach, but not in 2017

…In fact, this particular image was shared by ER24 on Twitter (the tweet has since been deleted) back in November 2013. News24’s use of the picture is the earliest example of it on the internet.

So no, this isn’t a fabricated image.

Yes, this is Strand Beach under water.

But more importantly, no, this picture wasn’t taken this week.

This too is Camps Bay beachfront, but not during this Cape Town storm

This was another image (right) snapped a few months before the Strand image above, and makes 2013’s end-of-year storms look like quite a nasty bunch.

According to the TimesLIVE piece in which the image first appears, the weather’s aftermath cost the city of Cape Town around R16-million in relief.

Again, this isn’t a fabricated image. It was in fact taken in Camps Bay. But the problem is its date of origin — it first appeared on the internet nearly four years ago.

This video was taken in Chennai, India, not Camps Bay

Another video that circulated on Twitter and Facebook, this video was also used during Tropical Storm Dineo.

Yep, it seemingly gets used whenever the winds pick up.

It stems from this Twitter video of Cyclone Vardah shared from Chennai, India in December 2016. The clip received over 700 retweets and 300 likes.

Note: We’ll continue to update this article as more images and videos of the Cape Town storm appear and trend on social media. For tips on how to spot fake news yourself, have a look at our brief guide here.

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