Red Cross Apologizes for Fake Storm Map

Nov 11, 2013 6:18pm

There seems to be a bit of confusion over the size of Typhoon Haiyan.

The following map, created and tweeted by the Red Cross, has gone viral, but the scale is just a bit off, forcing the aid giant to issue an apology.

The graphic shows the map of Typhoon Haiyan laid over the entire United States. But as the New Republic first reported, the Red Cross seems to have added an extra zero or hit the zoom button or something. The United States is roughly 3,000 miles end to end, but the storm was only about 300 miles wide. That’s roughly the distance from Philadelphia to Boston or San Francisco to Los Angeles or Paris to London.

In a blog post today, the Red Cross gave its graphics team a nice hat tip for the effort.

“To many of this side of the world, the concept of a storm that large, particularly in a country made of 7,100 individual islands, is difficult to grasp,” the Red Cross writes. “[Here] is a map created by a team at the American Red Cross, showing Typhoon Haiyan on top of a land mass we are more familiar with: our own.”

The Red Cross tweet has racked up 773 retweets and 150 favorites at this hour, spreading the confusion far and wide.

@BuzzfeedNews retweeted the map to its 74,442 followers:

People on Twitter have suggested other means of comparison:

About two hours after the original tweet, the Red Cross issued a mea culpa:

The organization also updated its blog: “EDIT 4:51 PM ET: Earlier today, we posted a map of Typhoon Haiyan comparing the size of the storm to geography of the United States. In the process of making the rest of our maps for our operations in the Philippines, we made a mistake with this one and it was not to scale. We always strive to provide the most accurate information possible and we missed the mark with this one — literally.”

Now The Atlantic says both The New Republic and the Red Cross are wrong. We’ll leave it here for the cartographers and meteorologists to work together to produce an accurate map that Americans will understand.

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