Using Twitter Effectively during Severe Weather

With Twitter becoming more mainstream everyday, it becomes obvious that people will use and adapt it to what they do day in and day out.

As some of you know I work with the ALERT group. ALERT is a Ham Radio group that works directly with the National Weather Service in Birmingham to pass spotter reports to forecasters. We are always looking for ways to help gather reports for NWS.

With the help of James Spann the use of the hastag #alwx was born.  Hash Tag terms are used in Twitter to denote ways to search for topics of interest. In this case #alwx stands for alabama weather.  Many spotters across the state (and other states) have adopted this style tag. Other states would use their abbreviation ending in wx. (example: mississippi #mswx, georgia #gawx, ect…)

Now that  you have some background how can you facilitate this?
Here are some tips:

  1. Twitter web page: you can type in search terms in the following box, once entered you get the option to save that search.
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  2. Find Twitter desktop client you can run on your pc or mac.
    • Seesmic Desktop: has a way to save searches much like the twitter home page utilizing the bar at the top:
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      then you will get a new column that you can click on:
      image  image
    • TweetDeck: also has a way to add a search column to the application.
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  3. Find a client you can use mobile.
    • PockeTwit: a windows mobile client that has saved searches as a feature as of today.  At the time of this writing I’m not aware of any other mobile clients that have integrated search.
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I hope that give you a starting point! I look forward to seeing your weather reports around the Twittersphere!

Questions or comments can be posted here or give me a shout on Twitter! @KV4S

73,
Russell Thomas, KV4S

Remembering the Tuscaloosa Tornado of December 16th, 2000

I was on vacation in Gatlingburg, TN on this event. I remember getting a call on my cell from Tuscaloosa Skywarn saying that they had activated. I immediatly turned on the news luckily i found a station that was showing some coverage (not wall to wall). It was a horrible thing to watch not knowing what was going on.

I later learned my family was in Tuscaloosa that day but they were at the University mall not even realizing anything was going on. When I talked to them later said how hot it was that day and figured it would be a bad day.

This was a turning point for me. I had participated in SKYWARN but it was mostly just so i could listen on my ham radio. After this event I voluntered with the Tuscaloosa County EMA and Tuscaloosa SKYWARN which later lead to some storm spotting. This event made me realize how vital SKYWARN is. The reports passed that day probably saved many lives.

When I moved to Birminham I immediatly joined the ALERT group. Their role is different from what I was used to in Tuscaloosa. They actually go to the NWS and facilitate communication with Storm Spotters and their office. I’m still involed with this group to this day.

Below I’m providing some audio and video links to this event they did a great job!

http://www.alert-alabama.org and click on SKYWARN Audio.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G3Jyqy7qhsQ