5.2 Using NWS Criteria to Name Winter Storms

Tuesday, 12 January 2016: 1:45 PM
Room 255/257 ( New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
Bryan Norcross, The Weather Channel, Atlanta, GA

In 2011, Twitter's penetration reached a critical level. Media outlets and public officials were tweeting breaking news before it was broadcast or posted on a website. The challenge was, increasingly, to find relevant nuggets in the torrent of information. Hashtags, of course, were the answer. In October of 2011, a major winter storm hit the northeast United States. The Weather Channel created the hashtag #snowtober for social media communications. Organically, the use of the name expanded to other organizations and the public. It was clear that winter-storm names, as a filter for social media, would be a winning communications strategy, if the meteorological threshold for naming could be figured out. This talk reviews the transition of the naming criteria from impact-based rules to the same criteria that the NWS uses to issue winter-storm warnings. The meteorology is not without its challenges, just as winter-storm warnings are not always cut-and-dried. A logical measure of the system's success, however, is that the names are now routinely used by local and state governments, school systems, large business, and the general public resulting in billions of impressions on Twitter. Still, it's believed that meteorological transparency can make the system even stronger.
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