5.1 Example of the Station Scientist in Action

Thursday, 19 June 2014: 8:00 AM
Alpine Ballroom (Resort at Squaw Creek)
Jim Gandy, WLTX-TV, Columbia, SC

A magnitude 4.1 earthquake occurred 12 km west-northwest of Edgefield, SC at 10:23 p.m. on Friday, February 14, 2014. Immediately a flood of phone calls resulted in a decision to suspend programming and begin wall-to-wall coverage of the earthquake. Coverage began at 10:40 p.m. and continued until 12:50 a.m. This thrust the chief meteorologist in the role of station scientist to collect and explain the information used to communicate with viewers.

Using the quick links found on the station scientist page of the AMS website, information was quickly gathered and disseminated on-air, online, and through social media. Examples of the coverage include the on-air interaction with the anchors, online postings, and the interactive social media tools. In addition to collecting and disseminating information, it was important to dispel rumors that were circulating after the event. Use of the NWSchat facilitated the spread of information to other agencies and media.

The importance of disseminating the information quickly and in real-time could not be underestimated. The earthquake followed the worst winter storm in more than a decade leaving almost 350,000 customers without power. Social media and text messages were used to reach these viewers.

The earthquake was a minor quake and did little damage. However, the shaking was felt across the state because of the shallow depth of the epicenter. A magnitude 3.2 aftershock occurred two days later, but was felt only in the immediate area.

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