The role of social media on finding your forecast

Local News

When it comes to getting weather information in Siouxland, your sources are as varied as the seasons.

From television broadcasts, to weather radios and smartphone apps, and even popular social media sites facebook and twitter.

ABC9 uses social media to keep our on-the-go viewers up to speed, and we aren’t the only ones. Siouxland Severe Weather Network, a popular Facebook group, was founded by Jeff Robinson.

A Siouxland native, and graduate of Wayne State College, Jeff was hit especially hard after seeing the impact of the EF4 tornado which struck Wayne back in October of 2013. 

“I saw the devastation and I just felt like there needs to be more warning,” says Jeff. “There needs to be more time for people to know what’s coming, and that developed the idea that there needs to be a social hub for people to come and gain information, be able to post their (correct form) own information, and kind of create a network.”

The group has now pushed past 25,000 members in less than 3 years. While having that information flooding your news feed may be nice, is it always accurate?

The one aspect meteorologists are concerned about is the sharing of inaccurate information. For example, the recent groundhog day blizzard was shared thousands of times showing over 40 inches of accumulation. While Siouxland did see some large totals between 12 and 18 inches in parts of Siouxland, it’s just one example of sensationalist information that occasionally gets shared on social media forecast pages to gain followers.
Jeff credits his group of administrators with keeping a close eye on the page, maintaining a high standard of quality on the posted information.

“All of our admins are either working for the fire department, they’re EMT’s, and have a background in storm chasing,” says Jeff. “I myself gave an interview to each one saying, ‘hey, you’re presentable to the group and you know what you’re talking about.”

With their dedication to accurate information, Siouxland Severe Weather Network has earned credentials as a member of the National Weather Service’s Weather-Ready Nation.

Veteran forecaster Todd Heitkamp, with the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls, has seen both positive and negative feedbacks of shared weather information online.

Heitkamp says he isn’t prepared to give a full endorsement to any social media group.

“We obviously can’t take something like that on,” says Heitkamp. “We can only speak on our own behalf, on the behalf of our own forecasts, and hopefully the public can decide who they’d rather trust. Hopefully it is the national weather service or the media.”

For complete, and accurate information about the weather, the ABC9 weather team constantly updates our Facebook and Twitter pages, as well as our ABC9 Weather App, which you can find on iTunes and Google Play.

You can also follow our team on their individual social media pages. The complete list is below:

And if you want to follow the Siouxland Severe Weather Network, the links to their pages are below:

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