A dramatic photo of the thunderstorm that descended on New York City Wednesday was allegedly taken by a passenger on a flight over Queens. Is it real?

The breath-taking photograph went viral shortly after it hit the Internet Wednesday afternoon, and had been re-posted on news sites and social media around the world within an hour.

But the whole thing started pretty innocently, when Dhani Jones, a former NFL player, tweeted the image at the New York Times, claiming that he had taken it on a New York City flight:

Hey @nytimes check out what's coming toward ?#nyc? from ?#queens?. I'm flying on @delta. Photo taken at 10,000 feet, he tweeted to his thousands of followers.

The photo was taken using Instagram, and it consequently swept through the photo-sharing site and Twitter like a wildfire, as residents up and down the east coast of the United States braced for, and endured, a flash-flood-like monster T-storm. It was something of a harbinger of what was to come.

And news outlets from ABC News to USA Today ate it up, posting it on their sites as a genuine photo of the storm.

The only question is: is it actually a real, un-touched photograph of Mother Nature in all her fury? Or is it a filtered, re-worked image, that has been changed in order to make it more dramatic?

All signs point to the picture being at least slightly re-touched or altered. The photograph, first of all, was distributed via Instagram, a software that allows users to easily and quickly run photographs through all variety of filters designed to make boring pictures look cooler, more interesting, duller or otherwise different.

But Instagram doesn't show you what has been done to a photo, instead just allowing users to post doctored images with the understanding that Instagrammers know they have likely been doctored.

Also, the photograph is extremely grainy. Running a photograph through an Instagram filter often results in graininess, as it often removes some data from the image in order to give a blurred look, uses a sharpen tool that downgrades the image quality, or otherwise changes it in a way that leaves it less crisp than the original.

Lastly, the NYC thunderstorm photo just plain looks like it's been run through the Instagram ringer. It has that tell-tale Hipstagram look of slightly-faded, nearly black-and-white whitewashedness.

So while there's no reason to really doubt that the photo actually is of a view of the approaching rainstorm as seen from the window of a Delta flight either in or out of LaGuardia Airport (LGA) in Queens carrying Dhani Jones, it is also very likely that this is not a genuine photograph free of filters, embellishments, or re-touching.

But one thing is certainly true: it's a pretty cool shot either way.