As heavy rain fed flash floods in parts of Arkansas on Sunday night, Twitter user @EvanCaddy posted a photo of a flooded Wal-Mart parking lot with an unfortunate pickup listing at a downward angle in water nearly up to its driver's side window.
"Serious flooding at Benton Walmart," the accompanying caption read. "Stay inside."
It looked to be another in a series of compelling flood photos that made the social media rounds during and after the Sunday night deluge.
But it wasn't.
The National Weather Service checked out the photo, finding it was actually taken in July 2012 in Louisiana and sent out with the false caption in an apparent attempt at online trickery.
John Robinson, warning coordination meteorologist for the weather service, said it's happening more and more.
Whenever a storm packing heavy rain and strong winds moves through Arkansas, it's usually not long before a flurry of photos hit social media. But among the tweets and retweets of flash floods, downed trees or damaged homes, there's often photos like the Wal-Mart one that seem to be intentionally posted with false information.
The weather service ferrets out such images through reverse photo software that allows them to search the Internet for an identical shot. If they find one posted before the storm it's purporting to represent, it means the photo probably isn't legitimate.
That process takes time and while that doesn't diminish efforts to issue storm warnings — the meteorologist in charge of that for a particular storm isn't the same one checking out the social media images — it does slow down efforts to distribute real storm photos.
"Let's say that it is a high end situation," Robinson said. "Let's say someone sends in a picture with quite a lot of damage. Chances are, we're going to check that picture before we send that report out. So if it was indeed a valid report, then we've used up time when people could have realized there really is a bad storm out here. But we've got to check to make sure the picture isn't fake."
Robinson said the weather service has seen such false photos online since it joined Twitter in 2012. Last year, a photo of the May 20, 2013, Moore, Okla. tornado was spread with a caption suggesting it was in Garland County. And another one last year was distributed claiming to be a shot of a tornado in Horseshoe Bend when it had actually been taken earlier in Mountain View.
The Wal-Mart photo wasn't the only false one to hit Twitter feeds Sunday. Twitter user @Will_DeYmaz posted — and hours later deleted — a photo of a man and a cat swimming from floodwaters surrounding a pickup.
The caption said it was taken in Natural Steps, Ark., but it was really a 2013 image taken in Canada.
That photo garnered a number of retweets before it was deleted. Some users also called out the poster, noting the photo and caption were a deception. @Will_DeYmaz eventually admitted it was a fake, using the #ARWX hashtag that refers to Twitter posts about Arkansas weather.
"I'm sorry to all the people of #ARWX for my tweet earlier that mislead a lot of people!" he posted just before 10 p.m. Sunday.
The apology fell short for some.
"I wouldn't have called it misleading," Robinson said. "I would have used a different adjective there."
Neither @Will_DeYmaz nor @EvanCaddy responded immediately Monday to requests for comment made through the social media network, though @EvanCaddy removed his photo after the request was made.
He did not immediately remove a post he shared on his own Twitter feed from another user who seemed to enjoy the false image.
"Hahaha my dude @EvanCaddy has the whole town and more freaking out after that picture," the post read.