Millions of people were tracking Hurricane Ian as it made its way across Florida. But one Instagram user told his followers not to watch the news about the storm, which he claimed had been “controlled.”
“Supposedly, we have this big hurricane coming to Florida, right?” he said in a Sept. 27 video. “I want to let you know that all weather is artificially controlled. Chemtrails, cloud seeding, tornadoes, hurricanes.”
He said that hurricanes could be created anywhere, and referenced an Alaska research program that uses radio transmitters to study the atmosphere. The High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program, also called HAARP, is the target of a baseless QAnon conspiracy theory that claims that it’s actually an instrument of the government, used to create weather and chemtrails.
The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)
We’ve fact checked false claims about artificially created weather before. And chemtrails — a term used by conspiracy theorists to describe the condensation trails behind aircrafts — aren’t real either.
There is no evidence that Hurricane Ian was artificially concocted. The storm barrelled through Cuba and made landfall in Florida as a Category 4 hurricane Wednesday, Sept. 28.
Andrew Dessler, a professor of atmospheric sciences and the director of the Texas Center for Climate Studies at Texas A&M University, said he’s not quite sure how to respond to such a claim.
“We cannot create hurricanes nor can we throw them anywhere we want to,” Dessler said. “Hurricanes are not manifestations of our thoughts. If we didn’t believe in Hurricane Ian, it would still pummel the west coast of Florida.”
Humans can affect the weather, but they can do so physically, Dessler said.
“By adding greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere and causing the climate to warm, we are in fact turbocharging weather events to the detriment of humanity. But this is quite different from “controlling” the weather and I’m sure it was not what he was referring to,” Dessler said.
The claim that weather is artificially controlled is ridiculous. We rate it Pants on Fire!
PolitiFact reporter Jeff Cercone contributed to this report.