Using Twitter to receive storm reports

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Tuesday, 19 January 2010: 11:30 AM
B218 (GWCC)
Tim Brice, NOAA/NWS, Santa Teresa, NM; and C. Pieper

Presentation PDF (155.3 kB)

Since its inception, the National Weather Service's number one goal has been to protect lives and property. One of the primary methods of doing so is through the issuance of watches, warnings and advisories. Although advanced automated observations systems are used extensively in NWS forecast office operations, ground truth in the form of reports from the public are invaluable in the warning process. Historically, the vast majority of these “spotter” reports have come into the forecast office via telephone. However, in this day of social networking and mobile phones that double as computers, it has become clear that local storm reports can just as easily be created, transmitted and received through micro-blogging services like Twitter. This paper will focus on the applications and formatting developed to post, retrieve and display weather reports from Twitter, as well as how those reports will be made available to forecasters, emergency managers and the general public. The paper will also focus on the advantages and disadvantages of using Twitter as a weather reporting platform. The use of micro-blogging sites like Twitter will allow a whole new segment of the population to participate in storm reporting. Hopefully, with these increased storm reports, the National Weather Service will be able to refine and improve its warning process in the years to come.