On a report that the 2012 <i>M</i> 6.0 earthquake in Italy was predicted after seeing an unusual cloud formation
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.