Old video from 2018 passed off as recent Sikkim cloudburst

By: Annet Preethi Furtado
October 6 2023

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Old video from 2018 passed off as recent Sikkim cloudburst

Social media posts claim the video shows a cloud burst over Lunak Lake in North Sikkim. (Source: X/Screenshot/Modified by Logically Facts)


The Verdict False

This video is unrelated to the recent cloud burst in Sikkim. It reportedly depicts a microburst over Lake Millstatt in Austria in 2018.

Claim ID 69a6ea90

What's the claim?

Amid the recent flash floods in Sikkim, a brief fifteen-second video has surfaced on social media, purportedly depicting a cloudburst in the region. The video portrays a substantial downpour from a storm in the mountains, with clouds moving towards a water body and land, with audible thunder in the background. One Facebook user shared the video with the caption, "Cloud burst over Lunak lake in North Sikkim.'' Archives of the social media posts can be found here and here.

On October 4, 2023, a cloud burst over the Lhonak lake in Sikkim, a state in India, resulted in a devastating flash flood. The floodwaters quickly overwhelmed the Teesta III Dam in Chungthang, leading to extensive destruction. As of October 6, the death toll from the flash floods reportedly stands at 40. The authorities have issued a fresh alert along the Teesta River due to the imminent threat of another glacial lake bursting in the northern part of the state. Furthermore, 102 people, including 22 Army personnel, have been missing since the devastating floods.

The Facebook post purporting to show a cloudburst in Sikkim. (Source: Facebook/Screenshot/Modified by Logically Facts) 

However, this video is unrelated to the recent cloud burst and flash floods in Sikkim and reportedly depicts a microburst over Lake Millstatt in Austria, recorded in 2018.

What we found

Following a reverse image search using a keyframe from the video, we found the same video on YouTube, without any sound, uploaded in 2020 and labeled as "Cloud Burst in Austria." 

Furthermore, we found a 2020 Facebook post with a sped-up version of the same video, with a French caption translating to "Magnificent micro-burst in Austria Beautiful evening", which credited "Piet_Floss" as the source. 

We then came across an extended version of the video, uploaded on the YouTube account of Peter Maier (who goes by the account name Piet_Floss on Instagram) on June 12, 2018. In both the English and German captions and YouTube video descriptions, Maier claimed that the video showed a timelapse of a microburst over Lake Millstatt in Austria. This particular YouTube video lasts 52 seconds and, while widescreen, matches the viral clip from timestamps 0:02 to 0:25. Notably, this extended version features a distinctive musical soundtrack.

Maier appears to be a photographer based in Austria, based on photos uploaded to his verified Instagram account. In June 2018, Maier also shared images and videos showing the microburst in a post on his Instagram profile. One of the posts was tagged with the location "Der Millstätter See" (The Millstätter Lake), a lake in Carinthia, Austria.

Reports from 2018 also highlighted Maier's capture during his stay in Lake Millstatt, Austria. A report by Insider described Maier as having witnessed an extraordinary microburst, which, according to the United States National Weather Service, is a microburst is a localized column of sinking air within a thunderstorm. Maier later uploaded a one-minute and twenty-six-second video on Facebook featuring the footage without timelapse effects and the added music. His German caption for the post translated to, "Here are a few original recordings with original sound clips, for all those who still believe that it is fake." 

Peter Maier's Facebook post. (Source: Facebook/Screenshot)

Logically Facts independently verified a key frame extracted from the video uploaded by Maier. Our analysis confirmed that the video indeed depicts an incident over Lake Millstatt in Austria. This verification was primarily based on the remarkable similarity between the water body's shape adjacent to the mountain in the video and the corresponding features displayed on Google Maps. 

Comparison of the YouTube video uploaded by Peter Maier with Google Maps. (Source: YouTube/Google Maps/Screenshots/Modified by Logically Facts)

Logically Facts has contacted Maier for a comment and will update this fact-check if and when we receive a response. 

The verdict

A video available since 2018 and purportedly showing a microburst over a lake in Austria has been inaccurately circulated with false claims that it portrays a cloud burst in Sikkim. Therefore, we have marked the claim as false.

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