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Fantastic photo of Hurricane Isabel

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 19, 2003

Fantastic photo of Hurricane Isabel. Update: the photo is of a hurricane, but not Isabel

Reader comments

CarlosSep 19, 2003 at 10:53AM


DanSep 19, 2003 at 10:53AM


Not Isabel, but cool nonetheless.

EmilySep 19, 2003 at 11:52AM

This was making the rounds at my office this morning, people ooh-ing and aah-ing, when I pointed out, “Where are the waves? And the rain?” I was treated to a long explanation of how the picture must be from the exact eye of the storm. Yah. Hoaxariffic!

StephenSep 19, 2003 at 4:58PM

The picture itself isn’t a hoax, it’s a genuine picture of another hurricane. Or so I gather from the above mentioned links…

CarlosSep 19, 2003 at 7:44PM

It can’t be a genuine pic of a hurricane, like Emily said, the water is dead calm, and on any storm the eye “wall” would be at least hundred miles the external clear skies. Isabel made landfall about 35 miles from where I am, this is not it.

jcsb12Sep 19, 2003 at 8:54PM

damnit kottke open yer eyes man

MartinSep 24, 2003 at 11:19AM

According to urbanlegends.com, the photo is actually a picture of a cyclone that was in the Pacific Ocean in February 2003.
It is still cool, tho.

KeithSep 26, 2003 at 12:37AM


Try this web site explanation - a cyclone - but still - why no waves? Could be the “calm before the storm”

JohnSep 26, 2003 at 3:16PM

I have to agree with Carlos, it’s not a tropical storm at all. Not enough wind and waves in the photo — trop. storm winds don’t just start up all of a sudden like someone threw a switch. No way things could be that calm with a tropical storm that close, it just doesn’t happen. And the photo wasn’t taken in the eye of a tropical storm either, because the wall of clouds curves away and shows clear horizon. If it was taken in the eye, there would be clouds all around the horizon, 360 degrees. Isabel’s eye passed within 5-10 miles of here last Thursday, landfall was 80 miles from here, and I’ve been thru 6 hurricanes since ‘96, so I’ve got a pretty good idea about this stuff.

More at


“Meteorologists (including Dr. Steve Lyons, the Weather Channel’s hurricane expert) agree that the photos displayed above are not pictures of any hurricane at all, much less Hurricane Isabel.”

PeteOct 01, 2003 at 8:11PM

If it’s not a hurricane it’s not a cyclone either. Cyclone is the name given to hurricanes in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. I’m no weather expert. But I am a serious photographer and some folks also call me a “front freak.” Having said that, MHO is that this is a photo of an approaching cold front or cell - somewhere in the Great Lakes. The only photo you’ll ever see of hurricane/cyclone would be from satellite. They’re simply too large to take in from any one place on the face of the planet. Nevertheless, this is an awesome photograph - whatever/wherever it is.

This thread is closed to new comments. Thanks to everyone who responded.

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