Fact Check: Ohio Train Derailment Did NOT Cause 'Flesh-Eating Rain' In Nebraska -- No Reports, NOAA Says

Fact Check

  • by: Marlo Lee
Fact Check: Ohio Train Derailment Did NOT Cause 'Flesh-Eating Rain' In Nebraska -- No Reports, NOAA Says NOAA Says No

Is flesh-eating rain coming down in Nebraska as a result of the toxic chemical spill from the February 3, 2023, train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio? No, that's not true: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration told Lead Stories they have received no reports about flesh-eating rain in connection with the spill. A Nebraska climatologist told Lead Stories that, given the distance between Nebraska and the derailment site, "ZERO" chance exists that this claim is accurate.

The claim appeared in a video on TikTok (archived here) on February 15, 2023. The video opened with a woman talking to the camera:

I don't ask for help, but I'm gonna ask for help and I'm going to ask for TikTok to do its thing.

This is what the video looked like at the time of writing:

Screenshot 2023-02-21 at 12.51.32 PM.png

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Tue Feb 21 16:54:18 2023 UTC)

In the 45-second video, the unidentified woman urged viewers in North America to "stay out of the rain," citing unidentified "reports coming in from Nebraska" that rain in the Midwestern state is "eating" people's skin following the February 3, 2023, train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the U.S. government agency that monitors weather, said it has no information about "flesh-eating rain" in Nebraska. On February 21, 2023, NOAA public affairs specialist John Moore, a meteorologist, responded by email to Lead Stories' query:

We have not received any reports of flesh eating rain.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln climatologist Al Dutcher wrote Lead Stories on February 21, 2023, that the distance between Nebraska and the derailment means that "it is about impossible" for the spill to have affected rain in Nebraska. He emailed:

I certainly haven't heard that one. In fact, I place the probabilities that rain falling here in Nebraska contains remnants of the train derailment chemicals at ZERO. Since the accident site is about 900 miles east of us and weather systems at this latitude move from west to east, it is about impossible for those chemicals to be lifted up into the atmosphere far enough to rain and move westward nearly a quarter of the distance across the continental U.S.

He added that, as "should be expected," none of the state's "major news publications" had reported on such an event.

Lead Stories also contacted the Environmental Protection Agency, which is handling the cleanup for the chemical spill from the train derailment, about the claim. If a response is received, we will update this fact check accordingly.

Additional Lead Stories fact checks about the Ohio train derailment can be found here and here.

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Marlo Lee is a fact checker at Lead Stories. She is a graduate of Howard University with a B.S. in Biology. Her interest in fact checking started in college, when she realized how important it became in American politics. She lives in Maryland.

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