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Hurricane Isabel Photo

Netlore Archive: Viral image purports to show the approach of Hurricane Isabel at sea, September 2003.

Description: Viral image / Hoax
Circulating since: Sep. 2003
Status: False (see details below)

Email contributed by Tanya V., Sep. 17, 2003:

Subject: FW: Hurricane Isabel

Hurricane Isabel Photo?
(Image source: Unknown, circulating via email)

Analysis: This photo began circulating via email on Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2003 as Hurricane Isabel bore down on the eastern seaboard of the United States. It seems to have been intentionally mislabeled. According to a Web page of the National Weather Service, the photo, credited to Steve Todd, actually documents a tropical cyclone sighted in the Pacific Ocean six months ago named "Graham."

Update: After a reader notified me that the above picture had "mysteriously" disappeared from the National Weather Service site, I wrote to the Webmaster, Clinton Rocky, who informed me it had been removed because of copyright concerns. He also confirmed that the photo, which some skeptics have labeled a fake, is real and legitimate, documenting "a supercell thunderstorm rotating around the decaying part of Cyclone Graham, which was off the northwest coast of Australia this past February."

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Sources and further reading:

Isabel Closes in on North Carolina Coast
Associated Press, 18 September 2003

Nat'l Weather Service Photo Gallery
NOAA/National Weather Service, Portland, Oregon Forecast Office

Last updated: 10/02/03

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The Urban Legends Top 25

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