S113 'An Analysis of Social Media Usage During Weather Warnings'

Sunday, 6 January 2019
Hall 4 (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Sarah E. Kleinert, Millersville University, Mechanicsburg, PA

There is no doubt that weather is an important factor in everyone’s life. In the realm of broadcast meteorology, one must keep viewers engaged through all venues including through social media. Social media has developed considerably over the last five years and now plays a key role in weather. This mode of communication allows meteorologists to connect with their communities and provides them with another platform to issue their forecast. During severe weather, it is even more important to keep individuals updated and safe on TV and social media. July 2018 was the wettest July on record in Harrisburg, PA and between July 21st and July 26th significant precipitation fell causing major flooding for areas such as Lancaster County, Dauphin County, and Schuylkill County. A local news station, WHP CBS 21, in Harrisburg, was able to get ahead of the floods by issuing “Weather Warn Days” to alert those affected about the threatening weather and subsequent flooding. Weather Warn Days kept individuals ahead of the weather to come, but CBS also experienced major bumps in social media engagements and viewership on the local channel. The most significant increase experienced through social media was on Facebook. Total engagements during the flood week tripled compared to a regular weather week and some graphics like surface maps or radar, did extremely well. This has the potential to provide broadcast meteorologists with a better idea on which graphics to utilize to better communicate with their community during severe weather events. If broadcast meteorologists can communicate better through certain graphics, the use of Weather Warn Days would be even more effective in keeping people safe.
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