Leveraging Social Media to Provide Seamless Forecast Services

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Wednesday, 7 January 2015: 2:15 PM
221A-C (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Brad Workman, Dewberry, Denver, CO; and S. Geiger, D. Smirnov, and J. F. Henz

In September 2013, the Colorado Front Range experienced a historic flooding event that provided both challenges and unique opportunities for the meteorological community. In an effort to reach as large of an audience as possible, the Colorado Flood Threat Bulletin (FTB) made the decision to leverage social media via Twitter, as an experimental communication tool. The use of Twitter was a great success in not only spreading general information about the flooding event (forecasts and “nowcasts,” damage, road closures, etc.), but also ensuring that the additional viewership to the Colorado FTB website was receiving relevant information to preserve life and property.

Prior to the introduction of the Twitter account (May 1 – Sept. 11), the FTB website had received 1,845 visits from approximately 700 unique visitors. Comparatively, after the Twitter account was utilized (Sept. 12 – Sept. 30), the FTB website received 7,726 visits from 6,676 unique visitors. Due to the success of Twitter utilization during the event, it was made a full-time feature of this year's Colorado Flood Threat Bulletin program. The successful debut during the flood event has continued this year, as site visits continue to be over 3 times greater as compared to the same time last year. This presentation will describe not only the measures of the FTB Twitter success in terms of analytics, but also demonstrate how the technology was effectively utilized (i.e., use of hashtags, mentioning larger accounts, etc.) and how meteorologists can make effective of use of social media in their day to day operations to build a more Weather-Ready Nation.