Fact Check: Storm That Hit Romania NOT Set Up By The US And Did NOT Just Target Southeastern Europe

Fact Check

  • de: Jurnaliștii Lead Stories
Fact Check: Storm That Hit Romania NOT Set Up By The US And Did NOT Just Target Southeastern Europe Natural Event

Was a storm that caused heavy winds in Romania in November 2023 set up intentionally by the United States, specifically targeting the southeast of Europe because of the high degree of vaccination skepticism in that area? No, that's not true: The storm, named Frederico by the French weather service, hit first France and Switzerland before moving towards the Black Sea region. There is no evidence that it was set up intentionally by the United States to target vaccine-skeptic countries.

The claim originated from a video (archived here) posted on TikTok on November 27, 2023, under the title "Something doesn't smell right!," as translated from Romanian to English by Lead Stories staff.

This is what the post looked like on TikTok at the time of writing:

TikTok screenshot

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Tue Nov 28 08:43:48 2023 UTC)

The person speaking in the video says, as translated, that the storm "was a big hoax" set up by "the Americans." The alleged evidence he presents to support his claim is that its "route and intensity were previously known for at least 4-5 days on all weather radars," and that it mainly hit Bulgaria, Romania, and Russia, one of the biggest areas where skepticism towards vaccines is quite high.

Storm Frederico was named on November 15, 2023, by France's National Meteorological Service. In partnership with the meteorological services of Spain, Portugal, Belgium, and Luxembourg, Météo-France names the storms likely to affect one of these five countries, if it risks causing a wind alert of at least an orange level, as is explained on its website. "The meteorological service, which is the first to issue the orange or red alert, assigns a name to the stormy depression from the pre-established list and informs the others. The depression that generates the storm keeps the same name throughout its life cycle." Frederico appears on a list of 21 storms likely to affect France and the other four countries.

From France, the storm hit Switzerland, and only then headed to the Black Sea region, hitting Romania, Turkey, and Bulgaria. On November 26, 2023, a storm hit the east of Ukraine and the border Russian regions, then heavy snowfalls hit Moscow, according to Russian press outlets quoting authorities.

Romania's National Meteorological Administration issued a red wind code alert as of November 18, 2023, for the coastal area of Constanța County, with winds blowing at 100 km/h. Roofs were torn off buildings, cars were damaged and cities were left without electricity. On November 25-26, 2023, areas such as Constanța and Dobrogea, but also the north of the country, got hit again by storms, snowfalls, and strong winds. Specialists quoted by the press said that the unusually strong winds and storms were caused by cyclone Frederico, which formed in the Atlantic, moved rapidly towards western and central Europe, and arrived over the Black Sea on November 19, 2023.

Vaccine hesitancy has spread in Europe beyond its southeastern countries. There is no proof that a purported high degree of skepticism toward vaccines would make countries like Romania and Bulgaria the target of a storm, as claimed in the TikTok. These two countries are listed by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control as having a rather low COVID-19 vaccination rate, as compared to France, for example, which shows an 80 percent uptake of at least one vaccine dose. But the State of Vaccine Confidence in the EU report for 2022, which measures the level of confidence in vaccines for MMR, flu, HPV and COVID-19 across the European Union, shows Romania with more than half of its respondents agreeing that vaccines are safe. Latvia, Slovakia, Czechia, and Croatia figure among the countries with the lowest level of confidence.

Conspiracy theories related to weather manipulation, weaponization, and climate control have circulated for some time. Lead Stories has published several fact checks addressing false claims about chemtrails, solar geoengineering, and HAARP.

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