FACT CHECK: Does This Image Show A String Of Three Tornadoes Over Virginia Tech?

Ryan King | Contributor

An image shared on Facebook purportedly shows a string of three tornadoes over Virginia Tech on Aug. 31.

Verdict: False

The photo predates the recent storm near Virginia Tech by at least eight years.

Fact Check:

Remnants of Hurricane Ida hit the mid-Atlantic and the Northeast this week, causing significant weather events such as heavy rain and flash flooding, The New York Times reported. In Blacksburg, where Virginia Tech is located, there was a tornado warning on Aug. 31, according to the National Weather Service (NWS) in Blacksburg.

One image shared on Facebook purportedly shows three tornadoes touching down over Virginia Tech that night. “String of 3 tornados over Virginia Tech 7:30 PM Tuesday August 31 2021,” reads text included in the post. (RELATED: Does This Video Show A Tornado Passing Close To Citizens Bank Park In Philadelphia?)

The image, however, predates the recent storm in Blacksburg. A reverse image search revealed a nearly identical version of the picture showing only one funnel cloud has been available for sale on the stock photo website PantherMedia since at least 2013. Another iteration with three tornadoes was also featured in a May 2019 HomeAdvisor article discussing some of the most powerful recorded tornadoes.

Check Your Fact searched local news outlets, including The Roanoke Times, the News Messenger and the Collegiate Times, but didn’t find any reporting about three tornadoes simultaneously touching down near Virginia Tech. There is likewise no mention of such an event on the NWS in Blacksburg’s verified Twitter account.

While Check Your Fact found no evidence linking the photo to Blacksburg, two EF-1 tornadoes did touch down on Aug. 31 at different locations in Montgomery County, the county that encompasses Virginia Tech, causing minor damage, according to a preliminary report from NWS. Footage of tornado-like activity allegedly in the area was retweeted by NWS Blacksburg’s Twitter account the same day. The NWS Blacksburg account also shared images of the damage from the tornadoes the next day.

Ryan King