Seed World

Getting Real Time Weather Reports with Social Media

The rise of social media has helped to advance the world of weather reporting.

Over the years weather forecasting and how forecasts are shared have evolved with technology. Where a century ago you’d receive weather reports from radio reports or by reading a newsletter, you can now open your phone and quickly check the forecast.

“If you look back 20, 30 years ago, if you had a tornado coming if you weren’t sitting at home, you’re not getting that warning. But now with social media, with your phone in your hand, we push that information and it’s getting in people’s hands in a much faster way,” Chantal McCartin, physical science specialist at the Meteorological Service of Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada, said during the Oct. 25 episode of Seed Speaks.

By weather information being instantaneous on social media, it can help emergency preparedness for storms. It can also shed light on severe weather events that may have previously gone unnoticed, Braydon Morisseau with Prairie Storm Chasers, said during the episode.

Social media “makes it so much easier to disseminate information across the country. Whereas opposed to in the past, you’re maybe a little bit more focused on your region. But we have such a wider range attainable to the public by using social media,” McCartin added.

It’s not just about sharing weather information, but also connecting localized weather events. Through social media, people can discuss weather happening in their region. In the agriculture community, Anthony Atlas, vice-president of business development at Salient Predictions, has observed farmers using social media to share real-time updates on the conditions in their fields, such as drought situations or heat stress, and ask other farmers what they’re experiencing for comparison. He added this helps to gather a greater understanding of the crop weather across an ag region.

“I’m often on (social media) just seeing what people are saying and what they’re experiencing on the ground. Knowing how they’re dealing with it, and how they’re responding to it can really help provide an understanding of the nuanced ways weather is impacting the day-to-day lives of people that we’re ultimately trying to try to serve,” Atlas said during the episode.

However, not every weather post you see on social media is real, so it’s important to verify the accuracy of information. People sharing images from past storms or AI made images can cause confusion. To verify that an image is real and current, Morisseau recommended you check the posting date to confirm its recently posted, and for possible AI images you can look for basic storm fundamentals and storm shape. He pointed out with tornadoes there’s a specific design to the supercell thunderstorms, so if the tornado is placed in an odd spot, it can be a sign the image is fake.

“If an event is happening and you’re getting six, seven, 10, 20 videos that are from different angles, then it’s a little easier to judge that this is in fact a real event,” McCartin added.

All three stressed it’s important to seek reliable experts and expert accounts for weather information. That can include government weather services, private weather companies, meteorologists, scientists, or storm chasers.

“I’ll look for accounts where people are thought leaders in their space, whether that’s meteorologists, people at universities, people that leading companies, or government organizations. I find that that’s a good starting point for building up a particular audience that I want to follow along with see what they’re saying,” Atlas said.