JACKSON, Miss. (The Clarion-Ledger) — Panic-stricken Facebookers posted about the mega hurricane that could, in (internet) "fact," end life as we know it.
The headline Category 6? If Hurricane Irma Becomes The Strongest Hurricane In History, It Could Wipe Entire Cities Off The Map screams from atop any number of articles circulated by any number of sites. That particular headline is on a piece penned by someone named Michael Snyder, who in his work of fiction goes into the fact that the name "Irma" means "War Goddess."
Another site claiming to be "CNN Business News" claims "HURRICANE IRMA could be a category 6 by the time it hits east coast." But upon closer inspection, the URL is http://cnn-business-news.ga, which is not affiliated with the Cable News Network unless it has recently gone into providing "the highest-quality financial and personal online calculators which will help you to get necessary data and you can use it for on most mobile devices and computers."
It's fake news, officials say.
"No, there's no such thing as a Category 6 hurricane. Category 5 is as high as it goes," said National Weather Service Meteorologist Thomas Winesett. "When you get 70,000 people sharing clickbait, that's a problem."
Local meteorologists had to answer questions about the Category 6 rumor on social media as well.
Just above a screenshot of one of the fake articles with a giant 'X' through it, WDAM Meteorologist Nick Lilja posted in his blog, "Like, to the guy who wrote that Irma was going to be a 'Category 6' storm: You suck."
"There is no such thing as a typhoon in the Atlantic or a Category 6 or higher hurricane," posted WAPT Meteorologist Nathan Scott atop a Facebook Live in which some viewers actually debated him in the comments based on the fake news posts.
"The scale we have right now really never envisioned storms that powerful. In fact, some have suggested that we need to add a 'category 6' to describe the kind of 'super storms' that are now developing in the Atlantic," one viewer wrote.
"That article is pure hype and absolutely false. There are no 'super storms' trend," Scott wrote in the thread. "We have not had a major hurricane since 2005 and now after Harvey hit there are a lot a fake articles spreading on social media."
The National Weather Service posted a link to remind people to go to the official National Hurricane Center website if they have questions.