Fact Check

Authentic Video of Surfers During Hurricane Hilary in California?

"Dude is surfing while California is flooding and earthquakes are going on," one social media user commented.

Published Aug. 21, 2023

 (X user @JShadab1)
Image Via X user @JShadab1
Claim:
A video that went viral in late August 2023 showed people surfing in California during Hurricane Hilary.

In August 2023, tropical Hurricane Hilary caused flooding in Mexico, and brought drenching rain to Southern California. On Aug. 20, 2023, a video went viral on social media, allegedly showing surfers in Newport Beach, California, during Hurricane Hilary. "I want to be this stress-free in life," one social media user commented. "Dude is surfing while California is flooding and earthquakes are going on," the tweet continued.

Although the footage is authentic, it was not captured in August 2023. The video was captured at The Wedge, a surf spot in Southern California, in May 2023 (three months before the hurricane reached California). Therefore we have rated this claim as "Miscaptioned."

(X user @JShadab1)

The video was originally published on May 19, 2023, by @surfline Instagram account, a company that specializes in surf forecasting and surf reports. Its caption read:

How big was Wedge today? (Ask @sage_burke!) How big will it be tomorrow and into the weekend at your spot? Check your local forecast. ?: @jamesferrell_

James Ferrel, an author tagged in the video's description, is a 22-year-old photographer and videographer based out of Southern California. The surfer visible and tagged in the video was Julian Sage Burke, who also reposted the footage on his Instagram profile in May 2023.

If you don't want to fall for deceptive photographs and videos, check out our collection of fake hurricane pics. And when you find a suspicious post on social media, feel free to send it to us so we can fact check it.

Sources

"Southern California Prepares for More Floods as Post-Tropical Storm Hilary Brings More Rain." AP News, 21 Aug. 2023, https://apnews.com/article/tropical-storm-hilary-los-angeles-california-mexico-flooding-25c75cba2dc7aea316056effdf913817.

"Videography." My Site, https://jamesferrellphoto.wixsite.com/my-site/videography-1. Accessed 21 Aug. 2023.

Aleksandra Wrona is a reporting fellow for Snopes, based in the Warsaw area.