26 September 2023
Fact checkFalse

False: Altered tornado video does not show typhoon-affected Libya, Japan or Philippines

The original footage shows Hurricane Matthew striking Florida in 2016 with no sign of a tornado. Annie Lab can confirm that it was digitally added to the video later.

A video showing a tornado swirling behind buildings was widely shared on social media earlier this month with various claims.

Several posts on X (for example, here) said it was a typhoon that hit Japan on Sept. 8.

Other posts say it was a hurricane that struck Libya about three days later (here). Another Douyin video also claimed it was a hurricane in Libya that killed 5,300 people on Sept. 12.

On YouTube, a video uploader said this happened in the Philippines on Sept. 11.

The video, however, is old footage that has been manipulated. A user’s comment on X led us to this hour-long tropical cyclone collection video on YouTube posted in March 2017 by “Tornado Trackers”.

At the 59:30 mark of the video, we found a visual match to the viral footage in question without a tornado.

A reference indicated this storm was caught on camera on Oct. 7, 2016, during Hurricane Matthew in the United States. No tornado appeared before or after the matching section.

The doctored tornado video (right) appears to be cropped from Tornado Trackers’ YouTube clip (left). Both clips show the same trees and buildings.

Tornado Trackers’ YouTube account also featured this video posted on Oct. 9, 2016, showing parts of Jacksonville and Melbourne in Florida being struck by Hurricane Matthew on Oct. 6 and 7.

Annie Lab geolocated the exact spot and found that the clip shows the South Beach Plaza mall in Jacksonville.

Google Maps’ street view image of South Beach Plaza at Jacksonville Beach, Florida.
The building and signposts confirm the location.

No tornado was recorded in Jacksonville during Hurricane Matthew, although a 2017 report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the United States said two “weak tornadoes” were spotted in South and North Carolina.

We also looked into the meteorological records in Japan, Libya and the Philippines, and found no record of a tornado spotted this month in these countries.

Further keyword search led us to an alternate version of the video with a tornado on YouTube, which was uploaded on Sept. 4 by an account called “rtosarovvideo.”

Comments indicated that the user “rtosarovvideo” may have added in the tornado visual effect. The account publicly claims to offer “best edits and real videos” of severe weather events and natural disasters.

Annie Lab reached out to the user account and will update this article when we get any response.

Among the three countries, Libya experienced the most severe damage. Local authorities reported at least 10,000 people have gone missing after Storm Daniel struck on Sept. 10 and 11.

Meanwhile, at least three people were killed by a typhoon in Japan on Sept. 9. The Philippines authorities say more than 400,000 people were affected by typhoons Haikui and Saola.