It is well known that social media is playing an increasingly large role in societal communications. It is also becoming an increasingly significant component in meteorological forecasting and analysis.
But is accuracy being sacrificed for the sake of expediency?
In broadcast meteorology, we have always been prudent about rushing to air information about extreme or unusual weather derived from a single viewer communication. It is important to vet the information whenever possible. Sometimes, however, the immediacy of the situation precludes the proper vetting, such as in a reported tornado touchdown. The most practical approach in those situations is to advise the viewer that the information is not confirmed.
But with the advent of the likes of Twitter and Facebook, the challenges of confirming information has increased exponentially.
For example, during and after a winter storm, the National Weather Service,