As if a Category 4 hurricane making landfall weren't terrifying enough, it has become an internet tradition for social media users to share fabricated pictures of sharks, alligators, and killer whales prowling the flooded streets of storm-stricken cities.
Thus, as Hurricane Ian approached mainland Florida in late September 2022, some Twitter and Facebook users encountered photographs like this one in their timelines:
The first thing to know about this tweet is that, as of Sept. 27 when it was posted, Hurricane Ian had not yet made landfall and there was no flooding reported in Tampa Bay, Florida.
The second thing to know is that, as fakes go, this manipulated picture was poorly done and quite obvious. Have a look at this enlargement:
The third thing to know is that this photo had circulated before in other false contexts. Here is that same orca, allegedly photographed during major flooding in Dallas, Texas, in late August 2022:
And here it is in Miami, supposedly, in November 2020:
Lastly, the original, unmodified orca portion of the photo can be tracked to earlier sources. It appeared, for example, on the Canadian Parks and Wilderness (CPAWS) website in 2016:
In short, no, this viral photograph does not show an orca prowling a flooded street in Tampa Bay during Hurricane Ian, or a flooded street in Dallas, or in Miami, or anywhere else. The photo is fake.
“Fake Hurricane Photographs.” Snopes.Com, https://www.snopes.com/collections/fake-hurricane-photographs/. Accessed 28 Sept. 2022.
“Hurricane Ian Timeline: When Tampa Bay Should Expect Impacts.” WFLA, 26 Sept. 2022, https://www.wfla.com/weather/tracking-the-tropics/hurricane-ian-timeline-when-tampa-bay-could-start-feeling-impacts/.
Salahieh, Amir Vera, Eric Levenson,Jason Hanna,Nouran. “Hurricane Ian Makes Landfall in Southwest Florida as Category 4 Storm with 150-Mph Winds.” CNN, 28 Sept. 2022, https://www.cnn.com/2022/09/28/weather/hurricane-ian-florida-path-wednesday/index.html.