Hurricane Florence, the most intense hurricane the Carolinas have seen in over six decades, is likely to strike the southern coast of North Carolina by Friday, reports the National Hurricane Center. And, news of a suspected sharknado attached to the storm is making rounds on social media.
This news is implying that, along with maximum sustained winds of 140 miles per hour, Americans should fear the onset of sharks, which have been lifted into the hurricane.
The following image teases a potential sharknado warning from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
We’re really in for it now y’all pic.twitter.com/FnK8JAGmlU
— Miranda Bitting (@mirandabitting) September 11, 2018
First off: What is a sharknado?
A sharknado is exactly how it sounds: a tornado or storm filled with sharks.
This is depicted in sci-fi films such as — wait for it — Sharknado. The Sharknado franchise lasted for six entire movies.
Exhibit A from the first Sharknado film (2013):
The Last Sharknado: It’s About Time, which is pegged as the franchise’s final film, came out in August on Syfy.
So, can Hurricane Florence cause a sharknado?
No. Let us rephrase — absolutely not.
The NOAA is not reporting that sharks are coming for the Carolinas during Hurricane Florence.
A NOAA spokesperson tells Metro, “Hurricane Florence is a dangerous storm that is a threat to parts of the East Coast. Residents should be tracking factual information from NOAA’s National Weather Service at weather.gov and hurricanes.gov. Unlike in the science fiction movies, flying sharks are not one of the hazards with any hurricane.”
Snopes reports that the image circulating social media is doctored (most likely created on a website that offers fake image services like BreakYourOwnNews.com). The image was recycled from September 2017 when Hurricane Irma hit the Caribbean and false reports claimed the NOAA gave this same sharknado warning.
The NOAA confirms a sharknado is impossible, though research does show that animals can be relocated from their habitats during storms.
TIME reported last year that, according to research, sharks can sense the change in pressure from a storm. They will proceed to deeper water where they’re more likely to be out of harms way.
Chris Lowe, director of the Shark Lab at California State University, Long Beach, said, “Most animals will get nature’s alerts and leave.”
“There are good examples of animals that don’t get out in time, that do get washed to shore, or get washed into people’s swimming pools and lawns,” Lowe explained. “Those things do happen, but most animals do go to deeper water.”
One instance where sharks were swept to shore occurred last March during Cyclone Debbie. A bull shark was displaced from the ocean and seen in the Australian town of Ayr.
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) March 31, 2017
No sharknado, though. As the NOAA spokesperson assured us, “flying sharks” are never a hazard during any storm.
Fact: Florence is a Category 4 hurricane hitting land by Friday.
Fiction: It’s bringing a sharknado with it.