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We’re meteorologists Tim Heller (ABC 13 Houston) and John Morales (NBC 6 Miami). Ask us anything about “bomb cyclones”, “superstorms”, and how we try to best communicate the science behind the forecast, AMA!
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It seems that every time a significant weather event is forecast, there’s a race to hype its impacts and severity on social media in order to catch eyeballs. But what was once limited to competitive TV stations in a broadcast market has spilled over to social media, especially Twitter and Facebook, where people can freely share “doomsday” forecasts, regardless of where they come from. After all, the ECMWF is the best model in the world, so its 10-day forecast of a 4 foot snowfall must be reliable, right? How are meteorologists trying to cut through this noise and provide the public with the best, most relevant and actionable information possible? We’ve invited several expert weather communicators who served the public during life-threatening situations in this past year to help shed some light on this problem by sharing personal stories on what challenges they faced and what steps they’re taking - and that the broader public should be aware of - to better inform the public in the age of information overload. Panelist Info: John Morales is the Chief Meteorologist for the NBC station in Miami. He’s the longest tenured weather presenter in South Florida, having spent 27 years on both Spanish and English language stations, and covering many-a-#bombcyclone like Hurricanes Andrew, Wilma, Matthew and Irma. Yet he’s known as a non-alarmist. Could he keep cool even when record-setting hurricanes were threatening in 2017, or did he give in to the hype? Tim Heller is an AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologist with 34 years on-air experience. He is currently the Chief Meteorologist at KTRK ABC13 in Houston. When Hurricane Harvey dumped torrential rain over the course of several days and homes filled with water, Heller used social media and on-air broadcasts to keep the public informed on the progress of the storm. Heller believes the key to successful communication on social media is to build a trusting relationship with followers over time, avoid using headline grabbing phrases like “Bomb Cyclone” and limiting the use of exclamation points. 4:10 (CST) - We’re live! Join us on twitter, too - @HellerWeather and @JohnMoralesNBC6 5:05 (CST) - Alrighty /r/science, we think we got to everyone who asked a question! Thanks for all of your interesting comments and questions - we’re going to jump back into the American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting, but please feel free to continue the discussion with us on Twitter!