Weather Blog

Is that stunning weather photo in your inbox real?

Is that stunning weather photo in your inbox real?

I get them all the time from viewers and I'm sure you do too -- e-mails filled with incredible photos with even more incredible tales behind them.

As you might suspect with randomly e-mailed items, a lot of these are either fake photos or perhaps real photos but wrong stories behind them.

With the help of stellar Internet urban legend sleuth, I'll show you some of the most popular e-mailed photos, and whether you should believe what you read.

First up: Katrina tornadoes?

(Main photo above)

The e-mail comes with five or six ominously stunning photographs and says they were snapped in the Gulf Coast area as Hurricane Katrina approached in late August, 2005.

False! says these are actual photos, but not of anything related to Hurricane Katrina.

They are photos from various storms across the Midwest by storm chaser Mike Hollingshead. (Who, by the way, does stunning photography work. I'll be featuring him in a future blog.) Somehow, these got attributed as Katrina photographs. Snopes says these photos have also been erroneously attributed to Ontario tornados and tornadoes in Australia, among other things.

Approaching storm clouds from (insert hurricane name here)!

False! Snopes says this is another multi-use photo that seems to get reused everytime a hurricane approaches. It's believed this photo is actually a shelf cloud from a tropical storm off the Australian coast in 2003.

Frozen cars!

E-mail depicts several shots of an iced-over landscape attributed to winter ice storm.

True! (Sort of) According to the photos are accurate, but sometimes the descriptions are wrong -- some saying these were taken in Massachusetts or Newfoundland. They were actually taken from an ice storm in Lake Geneva, Switzerland.

Photo of 2006 Tsunami? It's not even the right country!

False! This one looks straight out of Hollywood, and you would probably be right in that it is a faked photo of a large wave, according to The e-mail says it's taken moments before the wave hit Phuket, Thailand. Never mind the skyline is apparently a city in Chile and no, the waves are not real.

Tornado and lightning -- all together!

True and False! It's a real photograph -- of a waterspout off Florida in 1991. But it gets passed around as many other tornado events, says Snopes.  One even with an oil rig superimposed in the photograph to tie it to a storm in Texas.

You can actually buy a poster of this (legit) photograph at

Space Clouds Over Mt. Rainier? Part I

E-mail shows gorgeous lenticular clouds over what is said to be Mt. St. Helens at sunrise, but the debate rages whether this is in fact Mt. St. Helens or Mt. Rainier, where these clouds are more common.

Snopes. com presents both sides of the case.

Space Clouds Over Mt. Rainier? Part II

The e-mail forwarded around has several photos of these spooky clouds and has an attached story written by some dude named "Scott Sistek".

We're pretty sure this one is true :) has many more instances of e-mailed photos and have done the research of whether they are true or not.