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A viral video of Dodger Stadium taken Aug. 20 appeared to show the stadium’s parking lot underwater from Tropical Storm Hilary.
The helicopter pilot who took the video said there was "significant" water on the surface, but it "primarily displays wet concrete reflected by light."
The Dodgers shared images of a dry stadium and parking lot the next morning.
The center of Tropical Storm Hilary passed through downtown Los Angeles on Aug. 20, bringing with it record-breaking rainfall and strong winds. It was the first tropical storm to hit Southern California in 84 years.
Los Angeles recorded its wettest August day ever with 2.48 inches, according to the National Weather Service. But some social media users used news of the storm and video taken from a helicopter to falsely claim that Dodger Stadium was left flooded in the storm’s wake.
"Los Angeles Dodgers Stadium is flooded after mocking God!" read sticker text on an Aug. 21 TikTok video that showed an image of Dodger Stadium seemingly surrounded by water. "#GodWon," the caption said.
We found numerous other social media posts claiming that the image showed payback for when the Dodgers honored the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence — an LGBTQ+ activist group that satirically dresses as nuns — before a Pride Night event in June. That game drew protesters who said the group is offensive to Catholics.
The images of a supposedly flooded stadium came from an Aug. 20 video posted to an account called Los Angeles Dodgers Aerial Photography on X, formerly Twitter. It went viral on that platform, amassing more than 780,000 views by Aug. 22. The video was also shared on the Instagram account Dodger Aerial.
Text with the video said "Dodger Stadium this morning," and showed about a 30-second clip of footage taken from a helicopter.
So was Dodger Stadium actually flooded? If so, it was news to the Dodgers. The team didn’t return a request for comment, but Aug. 21 shared a cheeky post showing photos of a dry stadium and parking lot the morning after the storm. "Dodger Stadium trending? We get it. It looks beautiful this morning."
A Dodgers spokesperson told other news outlets that there was no flooding at the stadium and that the field would have been playable Aug. 21 if the Dodgers were in town. (The Dodgers were traveling Aug. 21 and were scheduled to play in Cleveland Aug. 22.)
Esteban Jiménez, the helicopter’s pilot, who is briefly seen in the video, told PolitiFact he filmed the footage on his iPhone 14 Pro Max.
"In my observation, the video primarily displays wet concrete reflected by light," said Jiménez. "The term ‘flooding’ might be subjective, but I believe the visuals depict a significant amount of water on the surface post-rain."
In the video, there doesn’t appear to be any flooding inside the stadium when zooming in on a still image. The infield dirt and the field’s grass are visible; they would presumably also be covered by water if the parking lot were flooded.
The Los Angeles Times reported that one of its photographers took a similar image of Dodger Stadium after a 2005 storm. A caption in the article described the old photo as "Dodger Stadium surrounded by wet parking lots, reflecting the light of the sky." The story is behind a paywall, but the 2005 photo can be seen here.
Times photographer Robert Gauthier took new images Aug. 21 of Dodger Stadium that show not a drop of water outside the stadium. In the article, he said the viral images were likely a "reflection of light."
We spoke with Mark Holtzman, the president of West Coast Aerial Photography.
"I would bet that viewing a higher-resolution clip without any compression would be easier to see that it is just wet concrete," Holtzman said, adding that he’s flown over the stadium after rains before and has never seen flooding at Dodger Stadium.
Holtzman said he viewed a digital elevation model of Dodger Stadium from the U.S. Geological Survey that shows "there is a distinct slope to the parking lot and the only place where flooding could occur would be at the very bottom of the image."
The stadium’s sloped parking lot, which was designed so fans could park about the same level as their seats, is visible in a terrain view of Dodger Stadium on Google Maps, a topographic map from the Geological Survey and on a Dodgers website.
A TikTok video claimed that Dodger Stadium was flooded after Tropical Storm Hilary hit Los Angeles.
The image in the video comes from real footage captured from a helicopter, but the pilot who took it said the video shows "wet concrete reflected by light" and copious water on the parking lot’s surface.
The Dodgers posted images of a dry parking lot and stadium the next morning. We rate the claim that Dodger Stadium was flooded False.
TikTok video, Aug. 21, 2023
Los Angeles Dodgers, X post, Aug. 21, 2023
Los Angeles Dodgers Aerial Photography, X post, Aug. 20, 2023
Los Angeles Dodgers Aerial Photography, Instagram post, Aug. 20, 2023
Esteban Jiménez, helicopter pilot who took aerial video of Dodger Stadium, email interview, Aug. 22, 2023
Los Angeles Times, No, Dodger Stadium didn’t flood. That’s just a reflection , Aug. 21, 2023
Getty Images, Don Kelsen photo of Dodger Stadium after a rain, Jan. 27, 2005
Fox 11 Los Angeles, Did Dodger Stadium flood? Viral photo from Tropical Storm Hilary debunked, Aug. 21, 2023
National Weather Service Los Angeles, X post, Aug. 21, 2023
The Associated Press, Hilary left California desert roads covered in water and mud. Now it’s threatening Oregon and Idaho, Aug. 21, 2023
The Associated Press, Is Dodger Stadium flooded? No, it was just an illusion, Aug. 21, 2023
The New York Times, Dodger Stadium is not a ‘big pond’ after Hilary, despite a viral aerial shot, Aug. 21, 2023
Mark Holtzman, president of West Coast Aerial Photography, email interview, Aug. 22, 2023
Google Maps, Terrain view of Dodger Stadium, accessed Aug. 22, 2023
Ballparks of Baseball, Dodger Stadium, accessed Aug. 22, 2023
Gizmodo, How 19 Giant Earthmovers Carved Dodger Stadium Out of a Mountain., May 5, 2014
Los Angeles Dodgers, General parking, accessed Aug. 22, 2023
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