Verify: Will Hurricane Irma be a 'Category 6' storm?

Meteorologist Howard Bernstein has an update on Hurricane Irma.

VERIFY – YOU’VE GOT QUESTIONS, WE’LL FIND ANSWERS

A 9NEWS project to make sure what you’ve heard is true, accurate, verified. Want us to verify something for you? Email verify@9news.com

THE QUESTION:

An article shared on Facebook about 2 million times says Hurricane Irma will be a Category 6 storm with 180 mph winds, but how true is that?

WHAT WE FOUND:

No, we can verify there is no such thing as a Category 6 hurricane.

With Hurricane Irma brewing in the north Atlantic Ocean, she's stirring waves of misinformation about her impact and magnitude ashore. 

An article shared more than 1.7 million times is taking social media by storm, claiming Hurricane Irma will be a catastrophic Category 6 storm. 

Dennis Feltgen, a veteran broadcast meteorologist and spokesperson for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, says it's bogus.

"We do not have a Category 6," Feltgen said. "Once you pass that threshold of catastrophic damage you have catastrophic damage."

The National Hurricane Center uses the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, which caps 5 as the top category for hurricane winds. At Category 5, winds reach 157 mph or higher and can blow small buildings over and destroy power lines. 

Feltgen also debunked the viral article's claim that Irma will reach 180 mph gusts.

The hurricane specialist warned people only to trust reliable sources, like the National Hurricane Center. 

"In these days of social media, it doesn't take much for something totally off the wall or something dramatic to go viral," Feltgen said. "That gets to be a problem because people don't know who to believe, and when the message is muddled, people can get hurt and we don't want that."

Our Verify researchers dug a little deeper and found it is federal crime to doctor a fake weather forecast and attribute the fake report to a government agency. Those found guilty are liable for up to $500 in fines, up to 90 days in prison, or both.

SOURCES:

Dennis Feltgen, Public Affairs Officer and a spokesperson for NOAA's National Hurricane Center in Miami

Hurricane Irma Forecast Advisory- NOAA's National Hurricane Center

United States Code Title 18 Part I Chapter 101 Section 2074 - U.S. House of Representatives Office of the Law Revision Counsel

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