Hurricane Forecasters Don't Tweet About Your Personal Life, They Swear It

“I can relate to this hurricane” is not a thought that everyone wants to think of. But on several occasions this year, the National Hur...


“I can relate to this hurricane” is not a thought that everyone wants to think of.

But on several occasions this year, the National Hurricane Center, a government agency that offers crucial updates and forecasts, seemed to invite unflattering personal comparisons in the way it wrote about storms. At least that’s the number of Twitter users who saw them when the agency tweeted about them.

Kate is still a poorly organized depression“We read, sparking thousands of retweets containing variations of Kates ‘and non-Kates'” me too “responses like The Storm strengthened and rapidly weakened a few weeks ago.

Fighting Kate shouldn’t last much longer,another said.

This has left some people wondering: is the National Hurricane Center, a very serious organization whose communications can directly save lives, making noise for a Twitter audience? Is it done on purpose?

This is definitely not the case, said Dr Michael Brennan, branch chief of the NHC’s Hurricane Unit, which is responsible for writing updates for the public several times a day on where a storm is and where it goes next.

OK, the puns were on purpose, he admitted.

But, he said, the agency’s forecasters only take on a cheerful tone when a storm poses no threat to land or life – Peter and Rose, which were relatively small storms, swirled around in Atlantic, but it was clear when the headlines were created that they weren’t going to be destructive.

Others who have gained attention on Twitter – including struggling Kate, “Big larry” and “Little Sam”- were not written for the sake of virality, he insisted.

“We are not intentionally trying to be ironic,” said Dr Brennan. “But sometimes people take them and run with them.”

Updates, including headlines, are written by individual storm forecasters assigned to storms and read by another forecaster before being released, he said.

Just like in a traditional newsroom, forecasters are always looking to vary the language they use. There are so many ways to tell a storm is weakening, Dr Brennan said.

And as forecasters communicate with the general public, hoping to reach as many people as possible, they aim to use everyday language, avoiding technical weather jargon that most people wouldn’t understand, he said. .

The occasional light headline on a non-threatening storm could help more people discover their Twitter account and updates – @NHC_Atlantique, @NWS – which might matter if it means they follow when a more severe storm arises, he said.

But, Dr Brennan added, they would never be flippant in a life-threatening situation, even if it would help attract attention.

“We write hundreds of headlines and warnings,” he said, “and I think a lot of them try to be pretty straightforward about what we see or what we are predicting.”

So Friday the Hurricane Center played it directly with the last storm: “sat is now a hurricane over the central tropical Atlantic. Is expected to continue to strengthen rapidly and become a major hurricane this evening or early Saturday. “



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Newsrust - US Top News: Hurricane Forecasters Don't Tweet About Your Personal Life, They Swear It
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