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Madison Czopek
By Madison Czopek July 9, 2024

Footage of towering tornado does not show Hurricane Beryl making landfall in Mexico

If Your Time is short

  • Video footage showing a large tornado towering over a strip mall and other buildings was shared online before Hurricane Beryl formed as a tropical depression in June 2024.

  • We found footage filmed in Florida during Hurricane Matthew in 2016 that largely matched the footage being shared, but the Hurricane Matthew footage did not include a tornado.

As Hurricane Beryl made landfall July 5 on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, social media users shared video clips that purported to show the storm wreaking havoc. 

One Facebook Reel featured a clip of a tornado that appeared to be engulfed in flames towering over a strip mall and other nearby buildings, and claimed it showed Hurricane Beryl in Cancún and Tulum, Mexico, on July 5. The tornado looks as if it could have been generated by artificial intelligence. 

This post and others sharing a similar video were flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)

(Screenshot from Facebook)

The posts don’t show a tornado caused by Hurricane Beryl, however. 

Using a narrow reverse image search focused solely on the buildings in the image, we found a compilation of storm footage on YouTube titled, "Hurricane Matthew — Melbourne & Jacksonville, FL." 

"Full recap of our chase during Hurricane Matthew from Melbourne, FL and Jacksonville Beach, FL on October 6-7, 2016," the video caption read. "Includes footage of very strong wind, storm surge, and blowing debris."

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The footage seen in the Facebook reel, of a building with a yellow facade in front of two taller beige buildings, appears at about minute 4:25 in the YouTube video

Using Google Maps, we found a strip mall in Jacksonville Beach, Florida, that largely matches the YouTube video. The strip mall was in one of Florida’s coastal communities affected by Hurricane Matthew in October 2016.

(Screenshot from Google Maps)

Using a wider reverse-image search that included the buildings and the tornado, we found that similar clips of a tornado over a strip mall have been attributed to other past storms

For example, one YouTube video posted May 29 included the same tornado clip, though it was a mirror image of the July 5 post. The clip was labeled "tornado in USA," with no mention of a hurricane and was posted online about a month before Hurricane Beryl first formed June 28 as a tropical depression.

Similar tornado clips were shared on X in September 2023 and TikTok in October 2023. 

The X post claimed it showed a tornado in Libya caused by Storm Daniel in September 2023. India Today reported that the footage had been created by a since-deleted YouTube channel that posted "real and edited videos of natural disasters." 

We rate claims that these clips show a tornado during Hurricane Beryl in July 2024 False.

PolitiFact Researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report.

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Footage of towering tornado does not show Hurricane Beryl making landfall in Mexico

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