Thursday, September 7, 2017

Tips for tracking Hurricane Irma and Charleston weather on social media

Cut through the hype storm

Posted by Sam Spence on Thu, Sep 7, 2017 at 3:41 PM

With another storm approaching the U.S., everyone has had one eye on their phones and one ear on the TV all week looking for updates on Irma, but it's easy to get lost in the flurry of information. So, let's take a look at a few ways you can get the most out of your social feeds over the next few days as the storm approaches.

Right off the bat, remember: During dangerous severe weather situations, it's always best to play it safe and follow the warnings of emergency officials as a possible storm approaches.

But here are a few tips to help you get the info you need, when you need it.

Tip #1: Pay attention to a few trusted sources, especially experts.

It's easy to get twisted up in your feeds with new storm tracks posted every few hours. So, to minimize the risk of getting wrong info, always check the source. The National Hurricane Center (NHC), a branch of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), publishes the latest advisories every three hours during severe weather.

Local TV stations employ the smiling, certified meteorologists we all see everyday and they know their stuff.

We've created a Twitter list of some of our go-to local sources for Charleston weather updates. It's an active group of folks, so you might want to bookmark or follow it to refer back to.

Tip #2: It's called the 'Cone of Uncertainty' for a reason.

You'll see plenty of storm predictions and 'spaghetti models' in the run up to any storm, but they're just that, predictions. As with any weather forecasting, it's impossible to know exactly what any storm will do, so keep that in mind. When you see NHC advisories, the 'cone of uncertainty' shows the "probable path of the storm center," meaning that the eye or center of the storm could take any path inside that cone (or maybe it'll venture outside.) With a big storm, that means that much of the storm could fall outside of the 'cone.'

Trust the experts as they interpret the projections.

Tip #3: Listen to emergency officials.

If you're ever in doubt of what you should do or how you should react to an impending severe weather situation, again, defer to the experts. Officials have dealt with a few severe storms over the years and you can usually count on them to take an aggressive stance in preparing for and ordering evacuations if it looks like they're needed.

Tip #4: Always check the timestamp on social media.

It should go without saying, but it's important to realize that when you fire up Facebook and Twitter, the top posts you see aren't necessarily the latest updates you need to know. Official storm tracks are updated every few hours, so don't let old predictions mislead into thinking you're safe or in danger.

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