A startling image purportedly showing one of Houston’s two major airports underwater in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, complete with Delta jetliners floating on a flooded tarmac, has been making the rounds on social media.
But all is not as it seems.
As Houston and other parts of Texas continued dealing with devastating flooding Monday, it emerged that the dramatic image of the inundated airport was a mock-up depicting New York City’s LaGuardia Airport.
Hurricane hoax: This dramatic image showing planes underwater has been circulating online, presented as a photo taken at a Houston airport during Hurricane Harvey – but it has been revealed as a fake
The simulation was put together in 2013 by Climate Central – an independent non-profit organization dedicated to researching and reporting on climate change – to show what would happen if sea levels were to rise 25 feet by the year 2100.
The article, published by ClimateCentral.org on June 18, 2013, also include two other mock-ups showing, based on some estimates, what the busy Queens, New York, transportation hub would look like at high tide with 5 and 12 feet seal level rise.
Several Twitter accounts took the photo of the flooded planes at face value and ran with it, presenting it as an image taken either at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport or William P. Hobby airport over the weekend.
The breaking news account @BreakingNLive tweeted out Sunday: ‘BREAKING: Look at this amazing picture form Houston airport. The flooding planes. #Houston #Houston Flood #Harvey.’
Source material: The image is a mock-up that came from a 2013 article published on ClimateCentral.org, showing what LaGuardia Airport in New York could look like in 2100 with rising sea levels. It also included a simulation showing 5 feet of sea level rise (pictured)
Progression: The site also had a mock-up of what LaGuardia could look like at high tide with 12 feet of sea level rise, an amount that could occur by 2100, according to some estimates
Upon learning from other users that the image was a forgery, BNL sent out an update that read: ‘We have deleted a picture of an airport which was flooded. It was not Houston airport.’
AirLive.net, which is a site dedicated to aviation news, also cautioned its followers in a tweet that the image ‘is not Houston Airport but a fake from an older picture of LaGuardia Airport #Harvey’
In reality, Houston’s two major airports remained closed to all commercial traffic on Monday as heavy rain and flooding continued.
Both Bush Intercontinental – one of the nation’s busiest – and Hobby airport have been shut down since midday Sunday as Harvey-related flooding swamped roads leading to the airports, leaving hundreds of passengers stranded.
Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport is pictured in the early hours of August 26. All commercial traffic out of the hub was halted on Sunday afternoon
Partially flooded cars are seen at a parking lot at William Hobby airport during Tropical Storm Harvey
Southwest Airlines airlifted about 500 customers out of Hobby on Sunday. The FAA had given the airline permission to operate out of the closed airport, which will remain shuttered until at least Wednesday.
Harvey made landfall on Friday as the most powerful hurricane to hit Texas in more than 50 years, bringing life in Houston and the surrounding areas to a standstill.
More flooding is expected in the coming days as water levels continue to rise, putting more residents at risk. More than 30,000 people are expected to be placed temporarily in shelters, FEMA Administrator Brock Long said at a news conference on Monday.
The National Weather Service said the worst of floods are expected Wednesday and Thursday, although there is still uncertainty over the storm’s precise path.