Twitter storm reporting: guidance

Tweeting weather information

Everyone talks about the weather. Did you know that tweeting what you observe about significant or unusual weather will help Environment and Climate Change Canada’s meteorological service? You can now submit your significant weather observations to the Meteorological Services of Canada (MSC) via Twitter only when it is safe to do so. By complementing other sources of real-time weather information with information from Twitter, forecasters expand their insight into a given weather situation. This potentially enhances their ability to pass along impactful weather services to Canadians. Environment and Climate Change Canada’s meteorological service uses a variety of tools to predict and report the weather. This includes a network of volunteer weather watchers who help to paint the most complete weather picture possible.

Using Twitter

Twitter is a free social networking service for people to communicate and stay connected with each other. You can write short updates called ‘tweets’ of 280 characters or fewer and exchange short messages with your followers. You can post these messages to your profile or your news feed as well. These messages are searchable on Twitter search.

External links list

Using hashtags

Hashtags are subject filters that join your tweet to the ongoing social dialog about the subject at hand. Adding a hashtag to a tweet makes it searchable for users who want to see more of the subject conversation.

Conversations around weather follow certain internationally recognized conventions.

  1. Users tend to add the nearest Canadian International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) airport indicator as a geographical reference marker such as #yyc or #YEG.
  2. Users will add #locationstorm (“location” in Canada refers provinces or territories) to indicate significant or dangerous weather tweets
  3. Users will add #locationwx (“location” in Canada refers provinces or territories) to indicate interesting but sub-severe weather tweets

For example #bcstorm refers to significant weather information in British Columbia and #ytstorm for significant weather in the Yukon. When you add a hashtag to a tweet, that Tweet becomes searchable by other users and meteorologists.

Using the Tweet Location Feature: previously geo-tagging

Tweet Location Feature is much like GPS for your tweet. Turning on your location on your twitter profile will locate where you sent your tweet from (identified by your IP address or smart phone). This shows up on a map associated with your tweet.

Removing the Tweet Location Feature on my account

In replacement of the Tweet Location Feature, a short description of your location, such as your city, highway location or regional district will work. (See above convention re: use of ICAO airport IDs as location markers). Combine your location with your storm or severe weather report. We require some type of location information. Without location information, it will be impossible to include your information into our forecasting services.

Environment and Climate Change Canada meteorologists and Twitter replies

We expect to receive a high volume of tweets from volunteer weather observers. It will not be possible for members of the meteorological service to reply.

Twitter over other micro-blogging services (e.g., WordPress, Tumblr)

Twitter is a well-known social media outlet. It has a large audience of users already familiar with its micro-blogging service. As the market for micro-blogging services grows, we may consider the benefits of making use of additional micro-blogging services. Another option would be to or revisit the choice of a particular service.

How to participate

  • We require a valid Twitter user account to participate and submit reports
    • use of this service constitutes an agreement to the terms of service of the provider
  • Note: trained or registered storm spotters should continue to use pre-established communication methods (via established toll-free line)
    • when possible, submit severe weather reports to Environment and Climate Change Canada’s meteorological service
  1. Log into your Twitter account via the web or mobile device.
  2. Submit your tweet report in the suggested following format:
    • for British Columbia: #bcstorm your location - your significant weather report
    • for Yukon: #ytstorm your location - your significant weather report

Some examples of weather report tweets without the Tweet Location Feature turned on:

  • #bcstorm Lonsdale Quay, North Vancouver: 10 cm new snow from 9 am to 1 pm. (attaching photos of the weather in question, with reference objects, is very helpful).
  • #bcstorm 20 KM West of Hope: hail 10 mm in diameter at 4:25 pm. (for hail reports we need a photo with a reference object – please, no hand holding hail shots).

If you select the Tweet Location Feature (Geo Referencing capability) in your setup

#bcstorm your significant weather report.

Some examples of weather report tweets with the “Tweet Location Feature” selected:

  • #bcstorm 10 cm of new snow as of 1 pm
  • #bcstorm hail 10 mm in diameter at 4:25 pm

Types of information to report

You can tweet any weather event that occurs in your local area. We are most interested in significant or unusual events and their impacts: snowfall, severe weather, flooding, etc. In particular:

  • damage from winds (trees down, power outages): briefly describe the damage and time it occurred
  • hail: include size of hail and time it fell
  • tornadoes or funnel clouds
  • flooding: briefly describe what is occurring (roads washed out, property damage)
  • rainfall during an event or total amount of rainfall recorded during a storm
    • when reporting rainfall amounts, include the time period when it fell
  • snowfall during an event or total amount of snowfall recorded during a storm
    • when reporting snowfall amounts, include the time period when it fell
  • freezing rain or freezing drizzle producing a 'glaze' on objects or roads

Additional guidance

Many of the websites listed on this page are outside of the control of Environment and Climate Change Canada. They remain on the list specifically for the convenience of our users. Environment and Climate Change Canada does not endorse any of the services found on these sites. Therefore we are unable to technically assist those who use these websites.

Once we have our ECCC regional accounts you should tag all tweets with the relevant account handle. This is ensures that the meteorologists who need the information can access it directly.

For comments, questions or suggestions please contact the National Inquiry Response Team.

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