People are freaking out after a disturbingly ominous satellite image of Hurricane Matthew resembling a red-eyed human skull with a sinister smile went viral on social media.
The spooky image first appeared across social media platforms and caught the attention of thousands of users as Hurricane Matthew made landfall over Haiti yesterday, October 4, 2016, smashing with destructive fury into the small Caribbean island.
The “skull of Matthew” has spooked not only impressionable social media users but also TV meteorologists who reported that Matthew made landfall on the island of Haiti at about 7 a.m. EDT local time, near Les Anglais, as a Category 4 storm.
The frightening red-eyed, skull-like form with an evil-looking smile was first shared online by meteorologists and weather enthusiasts, including Stu Ostro, a meteorologist at the Weather Channel, who admitted that the skull shape was “sinister-looking.”
The disquieting image, shared by Stu Ostro on social media, showed meteorologist Matt Devitt with southern Florida’s WINK-TV standing and presenting the weather forecast. It is not certain whether Devitt noticed the “skull” when it appeared as he delivered the forecast, but in the image, he appeared to look down at the ghoulish skull with a grimace.
Social media users confessed to being spooked by the malevolent-looking smile on the “lips” of the skull. Others noted with a shudder that the red eye of the skull was menacing. Many American viewers said they felt that the image was an omen of evil amid warnings that Matthew was moving toward Florida and the East Coast of the U.S.
“Frightening satellite image of Matthew looking like a skull as it struck Haiti,” said Local 33 and Fox 44 meteorologist Mark Stitz, according to Express.
The appearance of the red-eyed skull with teeth bared in an eerie, mirthless grin was so realistic that many social media users refused to believe the image was authentic. Many social media users argued that it was a photoshopped hoax.
But soon Devitt took to social media to confirm that the image was not photoshopped. He said the skull-like shape appeared as he was delivering the weather forecast at about 7:30 p.m. local time.
“I can confirm this satellite image of Matthew’s landfall is REAL and not photoshopped. Captured this morning during my weathercast. Freaky!”
But some social media users, especially those in the path of the storm, were upset about the viral attention that the image was receiving and complained that it was distracting attention from the potentially devastating impact of the hurricane.
“I really don’t understand people… the depiction of a skull is gaining more attention than #Matthew.”
Reports about the impact of Hurricane Matthew in the first few hours after it made landfall in Haiti were sketchy due to poor communication. It was difficult to confirm reports of casualties, but the country’s Civil Protection Force later said that a few people had died and others were missing.
More reports began to emerge later through phone contact with residents in the south of the country worst hit by the hurricane. Reports indicated that Matthew landed with winds up to 150 mph, felling trees, ripping off roofs, and destroying vast stretches of farmland. The torrential rainfall wreaked havoc, with destructive flash floods and giant waves overwhelming coastal areas.
Aid workers said they were struggling to access the worst-hit areas, but severe conditions were hampering efforts.
The eye of the storm hit eastern Cuba last night and was approaching the Bahamas, according to CNN.
Hurricane Matthew could make landfall in the United States on Friday morning along Florida’s east coast, CNN reported.
The authorities have ordered evacuations in areas of Florida, North Carolina, and South Carolina.
Officials are warning residents to take advisories seriously. According to CNN, President Barack Obama warned those in the path of the hurricane to heed evacuation orders because the impact of the storm, if it makes landfall, could be devastating.
North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory declared a state of emergency for 66 counties in central and eastern North Carolina, according to AccuWeather. Florida Gov. Rick Scott also declared a statewide emergency and placed units of the National Guard on alert.
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley has also declared an emergency and ordered the evacuation of more than 1 million people, mostly from coastal areas.
Georgia Governor Nathan Deal has declared a state of emergency in 13 counties.
[Featured Image by Ramon Espinosa/AP Images]