1.1 Words Matter: Social Media Comes of Age as Disaster Strikes

Monday, 8 January 2018: 8:45 AM
Ballroom E (ACC) (Austin, Texas)
Gregory Romano, NOAA/NWS, Silver Spring, MD

“Unprecedented.” “Catastrophic.”

These are words rarely used in the government lexicon, let alone that of a scientific agency. But those were exactly the words the NWS social media engine used to describe the potentialimpacts from Hurricane Harvey in the hours following landfall as the forecasts predicted truly unprecedented and catastrophic flooding impacts. While at this writing Harvey is still wreaking havoc on Gulf coast cities and we’re still collecting data, one thing is already certain...social media had an incredibly positive impact on getting the word out about the record-breaking storm, and most assuredly saved lives.

The proposed presentation -- as either a stand alone lecture or a panel discussion with government, private sector, and media representatives -- will address the steps NWS and others took to energize the social media space, the importance of the words used (including discussions about the internal debates about those words), and the lessons learned -- and to be learned -- in the days and months to come. These lessons are those the entire weather, water, and climate enterprise can take to heart before the next storm forms.

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