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(CBS Local) — As if Michael itself wasn’t menacing enough.
Forecasters also spotted a frightening image in the hurricane’s satellite imagery as it barreled toward toward the Florida Panhandle.
They say the storm seemed to take on the appearance of a gray skull with a red eye in its infrared imagery as the eye began to clear out Tuesday.
The same phenomenon was spotted in 2016 when a ghost-like grinning face was seen in Hurricane Matthew’s satellite imagery.
But despite dire warnings of a “creepy skull” spreading on social media just two weeks before Halloween, the experts say the spooky images don’t mean a thing.
“It’s just completely by chance,” Dan Lindsey, a scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s satellite program, told The Washington Post. “It’s kind of like looking at a cloud, and people see an elephant or something.”
Hurricane Michael made landfall Wednesday afternoon just north of Mexico Beach with maximum sustained winds of 155 mph. As a Category 4 storm, it was the strongest hurricane on record to strike the area.
As of Thursday afternoon, the storm was being blamed for at least five deaths and cutting power to more than 713,000 homes and businesses in the Southeast.