Social Media and the National Weather Service: A Budding Relationship

Apr 6, 2017

In the 24/7 news cycle, social media plays an important role. Now, the National Weather Service is attempting to bring that same mentality to its weather alerts and forecasts.

James Morrow, a meteorologist with the Weather Service office in Blacksburg, describes how the NWS is adopting social media:

“It’s been a recent two to three year period for most of the Weather Service, and we are really starting to get a hang of it – especially across the platforms of YouTube, which is used for briefings, Twitter, which is more of the short-term, what you need to know right now, and Facebook, which we are trying to use as more of a heads up, this is what we are expecting over the next few hours.”

That process has not been without some hiccups, however, as each individual social media site has its pros and cons. For example, Facebook uses an algorithm that is highly selective when it comes to which posts reach certain followers, while Twitter limits posts to only 140 characters.

The NWS is further adopting social media, where it can quickly disseminate information like this to a wide audience.
Credit NWS Blacksburg

Despite that, Morrow explains that the NWS plans to continue forging ahead with its use of social media and its newest features, like Facebook Live:

“We are one of the test offices within the Weather Service to determine how useful and in what aspects Facebook Live and Periscope, which is the version of Twitter Live, is useful for our ability to disseminate information.”

The Weather Service office in Blacksburg has already hosted several successful Facebook Live sessions.