By Tim Binnall
Prior to Hurricane Michael pounding the Florida panhandle this afternoon, an eerie satellite image of the storm may have served as a harbinger of the chaos to come. In a tweet on Tuesday morning, Florida meteorologist Jim Dickey shared an infrared satellite image of the hurricane in which the center of the storm bore an uncanny resemblance to a skull. As one can imagine, the photo quickly went viral with all manner of theories being offered as to what the creepy visage might portend.
Fortunately any apocalyptic fears that may have been conjured by the skull can be put to rest as a NOAA scientist explained to the Washington Post that such shapes are often seen in satellite images of storms. And, in fact, the 'skull' likely only appeared for a brief moment, fortuitously captured in a snapshot of the hurricane, before the whirling winds wiped it away and took on a different appearance. "It's kind of like looking at a cloud," Dan Lindsey said, "and people see an elephant or something."
Ironically, this is the second time that a 'skull in a storm' has become an internet sensation as the same thing happened two years ago when an even spookier version of the phenomenon captured the imagination of people online when it was spotted in Hurricane Matthew. Although Lindsey stressed that these events do not have any significance as far as how powerful a storm might be, despite the breathless headlines one might see online, he did note that there is one beneficial side effect of such stories. "If there’s a good thing about it," he mused, "it's the fact that people are paying attention to the storm."