S107 Communicating Winter Weather through Naming Winter Storms

Sunday, 22 January 2017
4E (Washington State Convention Center )
Christopher Soelle, Millersville Univ., Lancaster, PA; and S. Yalda

In 2012, The Weather Channel (TWC) began the practice of naming winter storms that impacted the contiguous US. Skeptics and critics in the meteorology community scrutinized the methods and questioned the motives. In 2014, TWC implemented objective naming criteria based on the winter weather warnings issued by the National Weather Service. TWC has expressed interest in having other partners take the lead in naming winter storms, but no organizations have stepped forward. In the 2015-2016 winter season, the UK Met Office and Met Éireann began their own partnership to name winter storms that significantly impacted their own countries. Both TWC and the UK Met Office cite public safety and hazardous weather awareness as the motive to name winter storms. The strongest catalyst behind the naming program has been the rise of Twitter. Individuals turn to this social media platform for real-time news and ideas. This study will collect and analyze tweets (users’ posts on Twitter) that contain the names of winter storms. In order to understand if this naming practice assists in hazardous weather communication, this study determines the user base, the context in which these tweets are utilized, and concludes whether this has an impact on reaching new audiences and the influence on individual preparedness.
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