Journal cover Journal topic
Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 15, 1061-1068, 2015
© Author(s) 2015. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
27 May 2015
On a report that the 2012 M 6.0 earthquake in Italy was predicted after seeing an unusual cloud formation
J. N. Thomas1,2,3, F. Masci4, and J. J. Love5 1NorthWest Research Associates, Redmond, Washington, USA
2Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, DigiPen Institute of Technology, Redmond, Washington, USA
3Department of Earth and Space Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA
4Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, L'Aquila, Italy
5Geomagnetism Program, U.S. Geological Survey, Denver, Colorado, USA
Abstract. Several recently published reports have suggested that semi-stationary linear-cloud formations might be causally precursory to earthquakes. We examine the report of Guangmeng and Jie (2013), who claim to have predicted the 2012 M 6.0 earthquake in the Po Valley of northern Italy after seeing a satellite photograph (a digital image) showing a linear-cloud formation over the eastern Apennine Mountains of central Italy. From inspection of 4 years of satellite images we find numerous examples of linear-cloud formations over Italy. A simple test shows no obvious statistical relationship between the occurrence of these cloud formations and earthquakes that occurred in and around Italy. All of the linear-cloud formations we have identified in satellite images, including that which Guangmeng and Jie (2013) claim to have used to predict the 2012 earthquake, appear to be orographic – formed by the interaction of moisture-laden wind flowing over mountains. Guangmeng and Jie (2013) have not clearly stated how linear-cloud formations can be used to predict the size, location, and time of an earthquake, and they have not published an account of all of their predictions (including any unsuccessful predictions). We are skeptical of the validity of the claim by Guangmeng and Jie (2013) that they have managed to predict any earthquakes.

Citation: Thomas, J. N., Masci, F., and Love, J. J.: On a report that the 2012 M 6.0 earthquake in Italy was predicted after seeing an unusual cloud formation, Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 15, 1061-1068,, 2015.
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