Fact Check

Is This an Image of Subtropical Storm Alberto Approaching Pensacola Beach?

An image purportedly showing a huge, ominous storm approaching a Florida beach town is actually a digital composite of several images.

Published May 29, 2018

Updated Sept. 8, 2019
Article 14 of 14 in Collection
A photograph shows Subtropical Storm Alberto approaching Pensacola Beach in Florida.

In May 2018, just before the beginning of a hurricane season widely predicted to be more active than usual, an image purportedly showing subtropical storm Alberto approaching Florida's Pensacola Beach had some people concerned about the potentially dangerous weather:

This is not a genuine photograph, but a composite image that was created by digital artist Brent Shavnore. The cloud formation in this image was taken from a real photograph by Jason Weingart that was taken on May 19, 2017 in Enid, Oklahoma. The cloud from Weingart's photograph was then flipped upside down and inserted into an image of Pensacola Beach, Florida.

Weingart, who said that his photograph had been used without his permission, shared a copy of the original image to his Instagram page:

Shavnore explained on his Facebook page that this image was created by combining several different images:

Hope everyone stays safe from Tropical Storm Alberto!

(This is digital art, a composite of multiple images. To all my new friends and those who are not familiar with my work, I blend photos together to make breathtaking scenery that bends the imagination. I assure you Pensacola beach is just fine, no need to panic. If you like what you see please follow me on Instagram @shavnore)

Shavnore also posted a timelapse video of the storm's approach and said that a still from the following footage served as the basis for his digital artwork:

In the comments to an Instagram post, Shavnore added that he "edited the heck out of" the image:

I actually flipped the sky upside down. Used tons of gradient filters and dodging and burning.

Appropriately, a high resolution version of this image available via Fine Art America is entitled "Upside Down Sky — Pensacola Beach."

Article 14 of 14 in Collection


Little, Jim.   "Alberto Passes Over Panhandle With Minimal Effects Forecast for Escambia, Santa Rosa."     Pensacola Journal.   28 May 2018.


Updated [9 September 2019]: Article updated with information about the source photograph.

Dan Evon is a former writer for Snopes.