S212 Going Social: The Integration of Social Media into Severe Weather Operations at the National Weather Service Des Moines

Sunday, 10 January 2016
Hall E ( New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
Eric C. McCormick, NOAA, Norman, OK

This research project seeks to analyze how Facebook and Twitter have been incorporated into severe weather operations at the forecast office, and focuses on social media analytics, real-time office weather operations, and user survey feedback to consider best practice methods and recommendations for improved social media presence as severe weather unfolds. The Des Moines Weather Forecast Office heavily emphasized social media use during the revisions of its Significant Weather Operations Plan in 2014 and 2015, and this project delves into this incorporation to analyze strengths and weaknesses to allow the forecast office to better serve those in their County Warning Area. The project, while specific to the Des Moines office, highlights recommended best practice and suggestions for improved social media use that can be utilized on a broader scale for entities that provide severe weather information to users. This social media project is geared towards the Weather-Ready Nation initiatives by providing insight and effective utilization of this means to disseminate severe weather and preparedness information.

This project has three components: Nine social media case studies for severe weather events in Central Iowa from 2013 to 2015 that identify social media key takeaways and trends, personally working as social media communicator during real-time severe weather events to test feasibility of these takeaways, and inclusion of conducted survey feedback about social media use and how respondents receive National Weather Service Watch and Warning notification.

These project components combine to produce an overarching model of social media presence during severe weather events by the Des Moines Weather Forecast Office. From this model, both strengths of and recommendations for improving these channels of dissemination are identified and discussed, of which could be applicable to a wide variety of organizations and entities that utilize social media as a means of disseminating severe weather information to their followers.

In the quest to create a more Weather-Ready Nation in combination with the ever increasing popularity of social media, particularly with Twitter and Facebook, this project sought to provide further insight into the effective use of these platforms as dissemination channels for time-sensitive weather information.

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