Fact Check

Miscaptioned Image Claims To Show Melted Traffic Light in Locations Around World

The places where the photo was supposedly taken included Arizona, Texas, California, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.K. 

Published Jul 24, 2023

 (Nancy Oberdorfer Gwillym/Facebook)
Image Via Nancy Oberdorfer Gwillym/Facebook
A metal traffic light was melted by hot weather in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, the U.K., and other locations named in social media posts.

In July 2023, Snopes received mail from readers asking if it was true that metal traffic lights had melted in various locations around the globe. The photo spread as a historic heat wave in the southern U.S. was expected to expand across the country, in addition to the first full week in July 2023 being the hottest global average temperature ever recorded.

In addition to receiving reader mail, we found the claim on social media platforms, like Twitter and Facebook. The photo had been posted on Facebook since at least July 2022. The places where the photo was supposedly taken included Arizona, Texas, California, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.K. 

We found the photo was from none of these locations. The photo showed a traffic light that melted as a result of a scooter fire in Italy in July 2022.

Italian fact-checking organization Open wrote that the flames lapped the traffic light, partially melting it as a result. (The original story was published in Italian. We translated the story using Google Translate.) 

Open reported the scooter was confirmed to have caught fire by both the Milan fire brigade and local police. Local firefighters told the publication that the heat probably triggered the scooter catching fire, as it had just been filled with fuel.

As the traffic light was melted by a scooter fire in Milan, not the air temperature in any of the various locations around the world named in social media posts, we rate the claim Miscaptioned.


Freedman, Andrew. "'Relentless' Heat Wave Spreads across Southern U.S." Axios, 18 July 2023, https://www.axios.com/2023/07/16/brutal-heat-wave-peaks-southwest-records-set.

Ridolfi, Ludovica Di. "Milano, un semaforo si scioglie per il caldo? Ecco come sono andate davvero le cose." Open, 1 Aug. 2022, https://www.open.online/2022/08/01/milano-semaforo-sciolto-fc/

Romero, Dennis."Southwest Heat Wave Simmering since Spring Will Expand to Cover Much of U.S." NBC News, 24 July 2023, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/southwest-heat-wave-simmering-spring-will-expand-cover-much-us-rcna95862.

Stieb, Matt. "8 Eye-Popping Numbers From the Worldwide Heat Wave." Intelligencer, 24 July 2023, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/article/worldwide-heat-wave-numbers.html.

Izz Scott LaMagdeleine is a fact-checker for Snopes.

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