Warning message

The message has gone viral, triggering panic among residents.

Doomsday message for Chennai by NASA is a hoax heres why you should stop forwarding itFile picture of Chennai following Cyclone Vardah
news Social media Wednesday, December 14, 2016 - 13:31

Two days after a very severe cyclonic storm Vardah left behind a trail of destruction and damage in Chennai and other parts of Tami Nadu, a mischievous social media message has triggered panic among residents in the city. The message, that is clearly fake and has gone viral in the last two days, reads:

“Warning:

if any of your friends or relatives are living in Chennai ask them to leave Chennai immediately because in the next 72 hours very heavy rain is expected more than multiple level of the present rain. As per NASA Report this is not the ordinary rain. It's name is EL Nino cyclone. There is a chance for 250 cm rain. Chances are there nearly the entire Chennai may be submerged in water. Search in Google, you will understand. Somehow inform of your friends and relatives in Chennai....

Wipro announces to drop people to out of Chennai city. Over 100 wipro buses starts tomorrow 7 am - 8.30am from Koyambedu bus stop. Please share this message to those stuck in Chennai.....

Spread the news tomorrow 6 flights gonna take off from Arakkonam air base. Flat rates of 1000 rs for any city in south India and 2000 for north India . Only hand baggage allowed

Air India flights to Hyderabad for Rs 1000 and Delhi For Rs 2000 only for emergency cases

Pls post this to diff.groups” 

For all those blindly forwarding the message, whose origins are not known, on various platforms and creating panic, let’s break down why this is clearly not true. 

Cloudy with light rain

Firstly, for the next week, IMD forecasts that Chennai’s weather is “generally cloudy sky with light rain” or “generally cloudy sky with possibility of rain or thunderstorm”.  There’s no warning of heavy rain.

NASA report

The United States’ National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) did put together a report on Cyclone Vardah on Tuesday. It reads,

“Vardah moved in from the Bay of Bengal pounding Chennai, India with winds of 75 knots (86 mph) and heavy rainfall. That means that Vardah was the equivalent of a category one hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale when it came ashore. Four tropical cyclones have formed in the Bay of Bengal this year with Vardah being the most powerful.”

The report also adds, “…data collected at that time showed that very heavy rainfall was present in storms in the southern side of the eye. Rain was measured by GPM's DPR falling at a rate of over 235 mm (9.25 inches) per hour.”

However, nowhere does the NASA report have a forecast, nor any mention of the doomsday prediction, “this is not the ordinary rain”.

La Nina not El Nino

Next, the message warns of an El Nino Cyclone. A quick google search for El Nino will tell you that it’s firstly not a cyclone and is in fact, “a complex weather pattern resulting from variations in ocean temperatures”.  And while, we’re on the subject, reams of newsprint and internet pages have been spent explaining why 2016 is now a La Nina year.

Read: El Nino's drought and heatwave is over, time for La Nina, what does that mean for India?

Wait, there’s more. If a cyclone does indeed form in the Bay of Bengal, it will be named Maarutha. There’s a naming convention for tropical cyclones. You can read about what names future cyclones in the Northern Indian Ocean will bear here.   

Incidentally, there is no typhoon/tropical storm warning by the United States’ Joint Typhoon Warning Centre.

250cm - fact versus fiction

“There is a chance for 250cm rain," reads the forward. IMD Chennai informs me that the average rainfall Chennai receives during the northeast monsoon season is 75cm. 250 cm of rainfall in 72 hours is not just apocalyptic, it’s wildly speculative with no historical basis.  Even last year, the day preceding the Chennai floods, the city recorded 34.5cm of rain in the December 1-2 storm. Overall, the city received 160cm of rainfall between October to December 2015, making it one of the wettest monsoons ever. Compare this with 2016’s rainfall statistics in Chennai. According to the Met Department data, Chennai has received 33.9cm of rainfall this monsoon so far, recording a deficit of 54%.

Wipro and Arakkonam

Now, as far as Wipro is concerned, I’ve heard of Corporate Social Responsibility, but when is the last time you’ve heard of a free bus service from any IT company in India? Needless to say, this is entirely rubbish.

The creator of this message may have been inspired by last year’s deluge, when flights did operate from the Rajali naval air station in Arakkonam. But this was because the Chennai airport had been forced closed and there were hundreds stranded in the city last December. This arrangement was, however, temporary and it’s unlikely you will be allowed anywhere close to the air base at the moment. You can, rest assured, leave your bags at home.  

Sadly, the message isn’t the first of its kind. Last year, a similar doomsday prediction was made for Chennai by “NASA”. It was a hoax and we’ve survived to tell the tale.  

Read: That WhatsApp message stating NASA has put Chennai on high alert is false, don't fall for it

 

 

Become a TNM Member for just Rs 999!
You can also support us with a one-time payment.