A frozen Niagara Falls picture demonstrates just now powerful the Polar Vortex is on the country, but there’s one little problem about the viral photo — it’s not exactly real.
The photo that began circulating earlier this week showed a frozen Niagara Falls, with cascades of ice flowing from the crest of the falls down to frozen pools of water below. It’s been a popular share on Twitter and Facebook and has been cited to show the power of the cold snap that took over the country, but the picture isn’t everything people claim it to be.
The photo itself isn’t fake, but it is three years older than those are claiming. The shot was taken in the winter of 2011, when the face of Niagara Falls also froze over.
That hasn’t stopped the picture’s popularity. One tweet alone send Wednesday afternoon has gotten retweeted more than 10,000 times.
Niagara Falls has frozen over today. pic.twitter.com/VuBlFhGw2l
— Jeff Lewis (@ChicagoPhotoSho) January 8, 2014
Within a few hours of the fake photo going viral, Reuters filed actual photographs of the frozen Niagara Falls taken in the past day, but by then the real pictures were buried by the three year old shot.
This is not the first time fake weather photos have gone viral. In late 2012, as Hurricane Sandy approached New York, Twitter was filled with pictures of ominous looking clouds approaching New York that turned out to be from a storm that took place years earlier.
Hurricane Sandy saw other bogus photos, including another old shot showing US military members guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and a photoshopped picture of a shark swimming in someone’s backyard.
As people who live in the region point out, a frozen Niagara Falls isn’t that unusual of a sight. The face of the falls freeze over at least partially every winter, though the flow of water never stops. It still continues underneath the ice and sometimes in small streams of water along the falls.