Popular map suggesting 'record-shattering snowfall' is a hoax

September 09, 2014|By Scott Dance, The Baltimore Sun

A winter forecast map that is going viral and suggests above-normal snowfall for most of the country -- and "well above-normal" snow for the mid-Atlantic and New England -- comes from a satire website.

The story has been shared widely across social media, carrying the headline "Meteorologists Predict Record-Shattering Snowfall Coming Soon." The accompanying map forecasts an unusually snowy winter for about two-thirds of the country, and a corridor of even heavier snow from Virginia to Maine.

In the story on EmpireNews.net, a Dr. Boris Scvediok, doctor of global weather sciences, explains that snowfall is expected to dramatically exceed normal seasonal totals.

"Because this year the snowfall is predicted to start by the end of September or the beginning of October, you can expect to multiply that number by up to five, ten, maybe even twenty times in some areas," Scvedoik says in the article. "In the worst zones, you could see 50 times the amount of snow you've had in the past."

If that sounds a little too dramatic to be true, it's because it is.

"As is often the case with stories from similar hoax news sites, the slightly plausible nature of the headline induced many users to post and repost the link without careful examination," the myth-busting website Snopes.com wrote about the Empire News story. "However, '50 times the amount of snow' is quite a broad imaginational stretch, as is the claim that such a massive weather pattern change would affect such a large swath of the continental United States."

Empire News, like The Onion, is a satire news website. Other headlines that appeared Tuesday include "Six-Year-Old Steps On Crack, Breaks Mother's Back" and "Obama Signs Executive Order Amending Constitution, Allows Unlimited Terms As President."

In reality, seasonal forecasting remains an imprecise science. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration doesn't typically release its winter forecast until November, only a month out from the season's onset.

There is little indication, at this point, of what the winter will hold. The Climate Prediction Center in College Park does not see any climate signal suggesting what weather might be like here three months from now, though it predicts a possible warm trend for the Northwest and cool and wet trend for the Southwest and Florida.

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