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Weather watching via Twitter
Wednesday, 7th March 2012
Africa S. Hands
Last week’s powerful storms that devastated parts of the Midwest and South USA were widely reported in real time on Twitter and other social media outlets. Create a Twitter list of these accounts, and others specific to your organisation and location, for up to the minute information.
Breaking news on social media sites isn’t limited to celebrity deaths and political uprisings. Last week’s powerful storms that devastated parts of the Midwest and South USA were widely reported in real time on Twitter and other social media outlets. Not only text tweets but photos and videos provided first-hand accounts of the storms’ toll.
Many major news organisations have Twitter accounts. However, the news you want when you want it can easily get lost in the mix of local, entertainment and political news. It becomes necessary to follow topic-specific Twitter accounts for constant coverage. The Weather Channel and AccuWeather at @TWCBreaking and @breakingweather, respectively, are two accounts with up to the minute coverage of major weather events. Both organisations also have Twitter accounts covering less inclement weather and related news and information.
To get news straight from national weather organisations, check out the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association’s (NOAA) tweets at @usnoaagov. While the breaking weather feeds above have more detailed information, NOAA’s Twitter account offers general coverage of storms and information about being weather-ready. Justin Kenney (@JustinNOAA), NOAA’s Director of Communications and External Affairs, tweets tornado EF-scales and satellite and radar images, with more frequent updates than the organisation’s main Twitter account. NOAA’s National Weather Service (@usnwsgov) is another option but Kenney appears to have more updates based on a review of the timelines.
For local weather tweets, search The Weather Channel Social by city or zip code. Users will find local and nearby tweets, an abbreviated weather forecast, and can view cities with the most tweets in the last hour. The “Most Tweets in the Last Hour” feature allows users to learn weather information as it happens. Whether it’s freezing cold or unseasonably warm, people will tweet this information giving the masses real time information and, possibly, breaking news.
Of course, there are hashtags for individual weather incidents such as #tornado, #earthquake and the like. One hashtag appearing in weather-related tweets, #wx, is mostly used by meteorologists. Combine the hashtag with a state abbreviation for more relevant reports. For example, #wvwx for West Virginia weather tweets.
Many state emergency management agencies have Twitter accounts. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) website has a list of state offices and agencies. On the FEMA Twitter feed you’ll find a range of posts on weather-related and other disasters. Posts from other agencies inform users of shelters and food banks. The hashtag #safetytip appeared frequently during last week’s storms providing useful reminders for staying safe in inclement weather.
The American Red Cross has a general Twitter account (@redcross); state and local chapter accounts vary.
When stormy weather and disasters occur, there may be little time to receive accurate, timely information. Thankfully, we can receive real time information from credible sources via Twitter. Create a Twitter list of the above accounts and others specific to your organisation and location.
By Africa S. Hands
Africa S. Hands is an independent librarian with a focus on helping professionals understand and utilise social media and search engines through one-on-one tutorials and small group workshops. Africa tweets (@africahands) on resources of interest to information and higher education professionals. Her LinkedIn profile may be viewed at:
Africa can be reached at email@example.com
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