Recent study shows tornado warnings issued on social media can reach 46,000 in 15 minutes
A recent test by the National Weather Service estimates that a tornado warning issued on Facebook will reach nearly 46,000 users within just 15 minutes, which is the average warning time of a tornado.
The City of Joplin incorporates social media in its severe weather warnings to reach as many as possible.
“When it comes time to warn the public about severe weather, unfortunately, there is not just one big red button that you can push,” said Keith Stammer, Director for Joplin and Jasper County Emergency Management. “You have to employ all different types and means of communication.”
Stammer says people often only read the headlines on sites like Facebook and Twitter, so it is difficult for users to grasp the severity of the situation based on as few as 144 characters.
A lot of bandwidth was lost after Joplin’s 2011 tornado, making it difficult to send video or audio. Stammer says sending a ‘tweet’ would require much less bandwidth.
“They can ‘tweet’ out, if they have a lot of followers, they can let others know they are okay,” he said.
And many plan to do just that if an emergency occurs.
“I think that the more knowledge we have when tornadoes and bad weather are coming, then the better off we are,” said Joplin resident Ronda Petty.
OfRhondals recommend registering to be notified of severe weather warnings under the emergency management section of the City of Joplin website at joplinmo.org.
All notifications posted on the site are also sent out automatically via text, email, Facebook and Twitter.