Clear Weather

Nature doesn't need photo editing

Meteorologists have our pet peeves as much as anybody. If you asked us across the board for our top three, I am sure that almost everyone will include faked weather photos in his or her list. We don't corner the market on fakes by any means, but weather is such a fascination for so many people that false images seem to go viral as fast as cute kittens.

One of the more recent fabricated photographs making the rounds is supposed to be multiple tornadoes coming out of a cloud that looks like a winged monster over Inola, Oklahoma. At the first sight of it, I knew it was a fake, and yet so many are sharing it as if it had been caught live on the 6 o'clock news.

Another popular forgery is that of a tornado "sucking up" a rainbow. Again, it is an interesting piece of artwork, but nothing more. How do I know? Rainbows are optical effects caused by the play between sunlight, water droplets, and our own eyes. They are not things that can be vacuumed up by vortices.

Mother Nature can create some beautiful and amazing spectacles without the aid of image editing. A lenticular cloud over Mount Rainier, a double rainbow over Raleigh, an amazing sunset over Falls Lake - these are all beautiful and natural views worth sharing. But if an image looks too fantastical to be true, it probably is.

All we ask is that you give a photo some thought before sharing as if it is fact. It's totally fine to share a fabrication that you think is beautiful or mesmerizing or fear-inducing as long as you don't present it as a real meteorological event. Oh behalf of all meteorologists, I thank you in advance.

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