Viral image is digital art, not Hurricane Ian

The Claim: Image shows Hurricane Ian

Hurricane Ian, one of the strongest storms in US history, hit the southwest coast of Florida on September 28, causing massive flooding and leaving more than two million people in the ‘State without electricity.

After:Ian regains hurricane strength as he targets South Carolina; Florida death toll rises: live updates

Images of the storm and the damage it caused are now circulating on social media.

One such image shared on Facebook more than 1,600 times in 6 p.m. claims to show the historic storm looming just off the coast of Florida.

“Incredible shot of IAN!” reads the caption for the September 28 post. “I have no idea who the photo credit belongs to.”

But the image does not show Hurricane Ian. It’s not even a photo. This is a digital creation made by an artist.

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USA TODAY has contacted the user who shared the post for comment.

The image is a digital art created in 2019

The image is not a photo taken from Hurricane Ian. Instead, it’s digital art created by Brent Shavnore, who confirmed he created it in an email to USA TODAY. An almost identical image can be found in the “illustration” section of his website.

Shavnore said he made the image go viral in 2019. He first shared it on Instagram in an April 2019 post, but has re-shared it multiple times since then, most recently in December 2020.

Shavnore said he thought his artwork was mistaken for Hurricane Ian because Getty Images recently posted a photo of him fleeing the storm.

The same image was mistaken for Hurricane Dorian in September 2019.

Our opinion: False

Based on our research, we rate the claim that an image shows Hurricane Ian as FALSE. The image is a digital artwork created in 2019.

Our fact-checking sources:

  • Brent Shavnore, September 29, email exchange with USA TODAY
  • Portfolio by Brent Shavnore, accessed September 29, Brent Shavnore – Artwork
  • Brent Shavnore, December 22, 2020, Instagram post
  • Brent Shavnore, April 12, 2019, Instagram post
  • Brent Shavnore, May 19, 2019, Instagram post
  • Getty Images, September 28, SARASOTA: Hurricane Ian hits the west coast of Florida
  • TruthBeTold, September 2, 2019, Tweeter
  • The Detroit News, September 6, 2019, Fake News: Widely shared photo of cyclone threatening Florida
  • USA TODAY, September 29, Ian regains hurricane strength as he targets South Carolina; Florida death toll rises: live updates
  • USA TODAY, September 29, Hurricane Ian is one of the strongest storms in United States history; 2M in Florida without electricity; 911 callers stuck in homes
  • USA TODAY September 28 ‘apocalyptic’ photos show Cuba plunged into darkness after Hurricane Ian triggered a blackout

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Our fact-checking work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.

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