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Twitter can help during tornadoes


At the start the May 31 tornado event in the Oklahoma City (OKC) area, I immediately began tweeting AND RETWEETING updates of coverage from the OKC local news station, @KFOR (below, a "roundup" website highlighting a tweet of mine concerning the weather).

Outside of providing on-the-ground details to friends and followers who I know were scanning their Twitter apps for updates while bunkered in ditches, basements and bathtubs (residents of OKC, Moore, Shawnee, Minca, El Reno and Cogar), I was really trying to get as many retweets as possible.


I've learned that extending awareness and repeating confirmations are everything in a severe weather situation. I wanted to help. I tuned in to KFOR's live broadcast online, which was almost 10 seconds ahead of national broadcasts from MSNBC and CNN, and tweeted my little heart out for the sake of these people.


In a state of emergency these days, Twitter users will perform trending topic searches to get an up-to-the-second idea of what's going on around them. In the case of the OKC area, where five tornados were ultimately confirmed on Friday, KFOR updated their followers and the world at a maddening pace—an average of 1 tweet every 3 minutes—posting 115 tweets and retweets between May 31 and the wee hours of June 1. They utilized hashtags such as #OKwx, #TornadoHunt and #supercell, and closed most tweets with a link to their live online reporting. KFOR's Twitter account added 454 new followers between Thursday, May 30 and Friday, May 31.


Two words: fantastic coverage. Super kudos to whoever was the Teddy Twitterhands at KFOR that night.


In a world where Twitter is seen and used as the people's newsroom, KFOR took an opportunity to protect people and prosper as a news organization. The station provided detailed information to its followers, and didn't miss a beat in naming intersections, schools or highways in the many paths of destruction on May 31. They called out lighting strikes, power outages, the locations of rescue crews, traffic jams; they retweeted places where people were taking shelter, being blown off the road, and even dying.


It's a debatable topic, but I think it's always a good thing to at least retweet during national weather and other emergency situations. The more confirmations and information from credible, on-the-ground sources, the better. According to Statistics Brain, more than a half-billion people use Twitter, so I'll say this: RETWEETING COULD POSSIBLY SAVE A LIFE!

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© 2021 by Christina L. Burton. All rights reserved.