Fact Check

Incredible Video: Could This Be the Start of the Devastating Hurricane Idalia?

The claim spread as the hurricane made landfall in Florida as a Category 3 hurricane in late August 2023.

Published Aug 30, 2023

Image Via @Geonoticiasmundo/TikTok
Video shot in late August 2023 showed the first signs of Hurricane Idalia.

In August 2023, claims began to spread on social media platforms that a video showed the first signs of Hurricane Idalia. The claim spread as it made landfall in Florida as a Category 3 hurricane.

"Hurricane Idalia has started," a Reddit post said on Aug. 30, 2023. The video claimed to show people running away from the water as wind buffeted the beach. The location was labeled on the video as Clearwater Beach, which is in Florida, and shot by "Dr. Mike & Danielle Tarjoman" via Storyful.

We also found social media posts about the claim with the video attached on platforms like X (formerly known as Twitter) and TikTok

But the video wasn't taken in August 2023. Instead, it showed Clearwater Beach in June 2023, when a waterspout had run ashore. (A waterspout is a tornado that forms over water, or moves from land to water, according to the National Weather Service.)

The video we found across social media platforms credited the video to Storyful. When we searched Storyful's website for "Clearwater Beach," we found the video, described as:

Beachgoers in Clearwater Beach, Florida, were seen running from a waterspout that spun ashore and beach equipment on June 16. Video recorded by Danielle Tarjoman shows the waterspout spinning through the surf and across the sand, sending beach chairs, towels, and umbrellas flying through the air. The Clearwater Police Department shared additional video of the waterspout that day, reporting that "two people went to the hospital with minor injuries after being struck by flying debris." Credit: Dr Mike & Danielle Tarjoman via Storyful

We also found the video credited as being taken in June 2023 on Storyful's social media accounts, as well as by USA Today

While the video didn't authentically show the beginning of Hurricane Idalia at Clearwater Beach, that beach was indeed impacted by the hurricane. According to WTSP, a broadcast station based in the Tampa Bay area, all access to Clearwater Beach was closed on the morning of Aug. 30, 2023. Hurricane Idalia had weakened to a Category 1 hurricane as it moved into Georgia, at the time of this writing.

As we found the video showed Clearwater Beach in June 2023, not during the arrival of Hurricane Idalia in late August, we have rated this claim "Miscaptioned." If you would like to learn more about other miscaptioned or fake hurricane photographs, you can find our round-up here.


"All Access to Clearwater Beach, Pinellas County Barrier Islands Closed Off." Wtsp.Com, 5 Aug. 2023, https://www.wtsp.com/article/weather/hurricane/clearwater-beach-access-closed/67-bd484a26-7942-412f-bec3-02f766f7242b.

"Beachgoers Run for Safety as Waterspout Makes Landfall on Beach; No Serious Injuries." USA TODAY, https://www.usatoday.com/videos/news/have-you-seen/2023/06/18/beachgoers-run-safety-waterspout-makes-landfall-beach-no-serious-injuries/12129407002/. Accessed 30 Aug. 2023.

CNN Storm Tracker. https://www.cnn.com/interactive/storm-tracker/. Accessed 30 Aug. 2023.

"Https://Twitter.Com/Storyful/Status/1670829070722953216?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw." X (Formerly Twitter), https://twitter.com/Storyful/status/1670829070722953216?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw. Accessed 30 Aug. 2023.

Minor Injuries Reported After Waterspout Whips Up Chairs and Umbrellas on Beach. www.youtube.com, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IBoOriUNjSY. Accessed 30 Aug. 2023.

"Minor Injuries Reported After Waterspout Whips Up Chairs and Umbrellas on Clearwater Beach." Storyful Video, https://video.storyful.com/record/28625. Accessed 30 Aug. 2023.

Minor Injuries Reported After Waterspout Whips Up Chairs and Umbrellas on Clearwater Beach | Beachgoers in Clearwater Beach, Florida, Were Seen Running from a Waterspout That Spun Ashore. | By Storyful | Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/Storyful/videos/minor-injuries-reported-after-waterspout-whips-up-chairs-and-umbrellas-on-clearw/1215749102465772/. Accessed 30 Aug. 2023.

Staff, Snopes. "Here's a Collection of Fake Hurricane Photographs." Snopes, 28 Aug. 2019, https://www.snopes.com/collections/fake-hurricane-photographs/.

US Department of Commerce, NOAA. About Waterspouts. https://www.weather.gov/mfl/waterspouts. Accessed 30 Aug. 2023.

Izz Scott LaMagdeleine is a fact-checker for Snopes.

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