Twitter storm reporting: frequently asked questions


 Questions and Answers

What is Twitter?

Twitter is a free social networking service for people to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent messages.  People write short updates, called ‘tweets’ of 140 characters or fewer.  These messages can be posted to your profile or your blog, sent to your followers, and are searchable on Twitter search. Please note Twitter is not affiliated with the Government of Canada.

Why tweet weather information?

Everyone talks about the weather, but did you know that by tweeting your observations about significant or unusual weather you will help Environment Canada’s Meteorological Service? By accessing real-time weather information via Twitter, forecasters are expanding their ability to provide weather services to Canadians. Environment Canada’s Meteorological Service uses a variety of tools to predict and report the weather, including a national network of weather observation stations, Doppler weather radars, international weather satellites, and other advanced technologies. We also have a network of volunteer weather watchers on the ground to give us the most complete picture possible.

What is a hashtag?

A hashtag is added to make a tweet searchable in a specific category.  For example, in this instance the hashtag is #bcstorm for areas in British Columbia and #ytstorm for areas in Yukon. When a hashtag is used, each tweet that has the #bcstorm or #ytstorm hashtag will be found when Environment Canada‘s meteorologists search for storm reports. Without including at least one of these hashtags your tweets cannot be located by our meteorologists.

What is Tweet Location Feature - Previously Geo-tagging?

Tweet Location Feature is much like GPS for your tweet.  When you turn on your location on your twitter profile, the location where you sent your tweet from (identified by your IP address or smart phone) can be displayed on a map associated with your tweet.

What if I don’t want to use the Tweet Location Feature on my account?

This is not a problem. A short description of your location, be it your city, highway location or regional district, followed by your storm or severe weather report, will work as well. Some type of location information is needed. Without location information, it will be difficult to incorporate your information into our forecasting services.

Will an Environment Canada meteorologist reply to my tweet?

Due to the volume of tweets expected to be made by volunteer weather observers, it will not be possible for members of Environment Canada’s Meteorological Service to reply to tweets.

Why is Environment Canada only searching for reports sent via Twitter and not from other micro-blogging services (e.g., FriendFeed, Tumblr)?

Only one micro-blogging service is being used during this pilot project. Twitter is a well-established social media outlet, and has a large audience of users already familiar with its micro-blogging service. As the market for micro-blogging services evolves, we may consider the benefits of making use of additional micro-blogging services or revisiting the choice of a particular service.

How can I make use of the storm tweets that Environment Canada is collecting?

You can view storm report tweets that are currently available.  The following external (non- Environment Canada Meteorological Service) links will monitor #bcstorm tweets and #ytstorm tweets:

When viewing tweets, remember that the information has been provided by an individual from the public and does not constitute an official storm report by Environment Canada. Environment Canada’s Meteorological Service staff will validate the content of the tweets before potentially using it as an official storm report. 

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