If you have been on Facebook today, you might have seen a friend share a report with a very ominous headline.
The story warns of a system that could “pound New Jersey with blizzard-like conditions.”
But it is not going to happen, because that particular report was published on March 1, 2013.
Oddly enough, the story somehow resurfaced today and has already been shared over 5,000 times, according to Steve Stirling, a reporter with NJ Advance Media.
“If you see something like this, please check the date. It is old and wrong,” he wrote on his Facebook page, NJ Weather Guy.
Stirling added a warning to the top of the report, alerting unsuspecting readers to the actual date of publishing.
While today’s incident is not exactly a hoax, the winter of 2013-2014 was a banner year for misleading blizzard reports.
During the heart of last winter, a rumor of a historic blizzard was shared on Facebook tens of thousands of times, prompting the National Weather Service office in Mount Holly, NJ to issue a blunt statement.
“It was the antithesis of public service when the 30 inch snowstorm graphic was posted and hyped last week. It continues to be the antithesis of public service,” the statement said. “Do not reinforce that thoughtless behavior by spreading the rumor. It was nonsense then; it’s nonsense now.”
Stirling wrote an appropriately headlined story about the hoax — “The mammoth NJ blizzard that never was and will not be” — that was widely circulated on social media, although not nearly as much as the false report.
Ever so aware, after today’s incident, he’s already preparing for potentially another long winter of warning the public of weather hoaxes.
“Well the social media snow madness is getting an early start this year,” Stirling said today.