On Aug. 29, 2021, before Hurricane Ida was downgraded to a tropical storm, a TikTok video and its commenters purported that The Weather Channel correspondent Jim Cantore was caught "faking it" after being "photo bombed." In the video, he stood bracing against winds near an overturned dumpster on a street corner in New Orleans, Louisiana, while a bystander nonchalantly stands by. A Twitter video, meanwhile, showed a man casually doing a cartwheel behind Cantore as he braced himself in the winds.
The top comments were from viewers who apparently did not understand the context of the dumpster video. The top comment said: "This is why we don't trust the news." Another remarked: "They can't even tell the truth about the weather!" A third comment read: "Just like the government misleading on Covid." Yet another top comment also mentioned the media: "Do we see the problem with the media yet?"
The man doing a cartwheel behind Cantore also received quite a bit of attention on social media.
The cartwheel video was received more in humor than the TikTok video. The Twitter user above did not criticize Cantore as the commenters on TikTok did.
As for the TikTok video, Cantore was not caught "faking" the wind speeds of Hurricane Ida, nor did the person who did a cartwheel or "photo bombed" him prove anything strange was at play by The Weather Channel correspondent. Further, the overturned dumpster was a powerful example of the winds that day. Hurricane Ida became as strong as a Category 4 storm when it first made landfall in Louisiana, reaching wind speeds of around 150 mph.
The truth of the matter is that Cantore was stepping into an alley between buildings to show viewers the power of Ida's wind speeds. The alley was offscreen to the right, as can be seen on Google Street View. In both videos, Cantore was standing next to the New Orleans Marriott Hotel on Canal Street. The man standing in the background was simply behind the cover of a building, shielding him from most of the winds.
During Cantore's hours of coverage on the street corner, he often stepped back toward his camera crew, who were situated behind cover against a building and under an awning for the Creole House Restaurant & Oyster Bar. This allowed him to also be shielded from the mighty winds that were rushing down the alley.
The Weather Channel posted a video on Facebook that showed Cantore walk away from the alley, which in essence debunked the idea that he and his crew were doing something misleading. It also showed the power of the winds that knocked over the dumpster.
In sum, the people who "photo bombed" Cantore, whether by cartwheel or by casually standing in the background, did not prove he was "faking it." Cantore was in an alley with rushing winds, while all of the other people were protected by the cover of a nearby building.
For the latest on Hurricane Ida, look to our republished reporting from The Associated Press.
“Hurricane Ida Traps Louisianans, Shatters the Power Grid.” AP NEWS, 30 Aug. 2021, https://apnews.com/article/hurricane-ida-louisiana-new-orleans-c43c2c68946ceb6100c2239534c6c290.
CNN, Amir Vera and Jay Croft. “First Death Reported in Louisiana as Hurricane Ida Continues Wreaking Havoc across Southern US.” CNN, https://www.cnn.com/2021/08/29/weather/hurricane-ida-sunday/index.html. Accessed 30 Aug. 2021.