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Forecasters warn of fake Irma forecast on social media

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — As Harvey continues to diminish in strength, another hurricane gaining strength in the Atlantic Ocean is getting attention.

Irma became a Category Category 3 storm Thursday with winds holding steady at 115 miles per hour. The National Weather Service has the storm moving northwest toward the Caribbean, but said it’s too early to know if it will make landfall or where.

However, that hasn’t stopped one fake weather forecast from being circulated thousands of times across social media, creating unnecessary fear and panic.

The Facebook post that’s being widely shared was posted Thursday evening and projects Irma making landfall on the Texas/ Louisiana coast — an area already reeling from heavy flooding following Hurricane Harvey.

“Everyone needs to pay attention to Hurricane Irma,” the post says. “She’s predicted to come through mexico hit us and everything inbetween up to Houston. Shes already a Category 2 and hasnt even got into warm water yet.”

The image has been shared more than 32,000 times.

While it may look similar to the real deal, it’s not. Forecasters said it is simply too early to tell with any accuracy where the storm will hit if it does at all. In addition, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has not released any such projection.

The post itself has received backlash on social media, with many pointing out it’s illegal to use the NOAA’s logo.

According to Cornell Law School, “whoever knowingly issues or publishes any counterfeit weather forecast or warning of weather conditions falsely spreading representing such forecast or warning to have been issued or published by the Weather Bureau, United States Signal Service, or other branch of the Government service, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ninety days, or both.”

See the real NOAA projection for Irma here