National Weather Service: 'Look out for fake weather pics!'

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Left: The real photo of a 2004 Nebraska storm. Right: A fake photo circulating this past month. (Provided by the National Weather Service)

A fake photo purportedly showing a huge supercell thunderstorm cloud over Lawton, Oklahoma has been circulating on social media, the National Weather Service said.

The National Weather Service in Norman, Oklahoma debunked the phony photo in its own Facebook post on April 19. “It’s really easy to share images on Twitter and Facebook, but it’s also easy to get fooled when people decide to post fake images,” the National Weather Service wrote on Facebook.


(Provided by the National Weather Service)

According to the National Weather Service, the original picture, taken by storm chaser Mike Hollingshead, is of a “real storm!” back in 2004 in Nebraska.  Hollingshead’s website dates the storm to May 28, 2004, and provides a series of images from the storm.

But, the real storm cloud was Photoshopped into a picture of a road and field in Lawton, Oklahoma. According to the Associated Press, around the time the fake photo started circulating, “there were a reported 12 small tornadoes in Oklahoma…including one on the western edge of Lawton.”

Richard Smith from The National Weather Service in Norman, Oklahoma provided iMediaEthics with a screenshot of the post that apparently first spread the phony photo, shown below.


(Provided by NOAA)

Hollingshead’s Real Weather Photo has been Faked Before

According to and, the real 2004 thunderstorm photo has been used before in other fake weather photos.  Snopes says the thunderstorm was wrongly passed off as a picture of Hurricane Katrina back in 2005, and reports that the thunderstorm part of the photo has been doctored into pictures of the Statue of Liberty since 2010.

Last year, Hollingshead’s photo of the thunderstorm was doctored into an image of the Statue of Liberty and was one of many fake photos circulated as a photo of Hurricane Sandy. That fake photo, shown below, is still published on “Indonesian Community Website” Indo New York as if it were a real photo of the storm.


This fake photo combined Hollingshead’s real storm photo and a photo of the Statue of Liberty. (Credit:, screenshot)

Check out all of iMediaEthics’ fake weather photo stories.

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National Weather Service: ‘Look out for fake weather pics!’

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