An advantage of searching Twitter for weather reports is the capability to utilize recently added “geotagging” — geographical information that is associated with something, in this case individual Tweets. This allows the NWS to correlate each Tweet to its location when it was sent. This capability will help to enhance and increase timely and accurate online weather reporting and communication between the public and their local weather forecast offices. The reports will be carefully evaluated during the experiment to ensure quality and timeliness.
Who Can Participate?
Anyone with a Twitter account can participate. Note: Trained storm spotters should use pre-established communication methods (toll-free line, eSpotter, etc.), when possible, to send severe weather reports to the NWS.
The site also shows how to use the Twitter geotagging feature as well as how to report without a geotag. As far as what to report, the Weather Service instructs:
You can tweet any weather event that occurs in your local area, but we are most interested in significant events: snowfall, severe weather, flooding, etc. In particular:
Damage from winds–briefly describe what was damaged and time it occurred; Hail–include size of hail and time it fell; Tornadoes or funnel clouds; Flooding–briefly describe what is occurring; Snowfall during an event and storm total. When reporting snowfall, include the time period when it fell; Freezing rain or freezing drizzle producing a ‘glaze’ on objects or roads; Dense fog restricting visibility to less than a half mile.
This outreach initiative builds upon the Weather Service’s SkyWarn program which includes 260,000 Storm Spotters across the U.S. who have been trained to help report dangerous conditions. (Thanks to Keith Robertory for bringing the new program to my attention.)