If you know me, I’m one of those fanatical social media geeks. The friends that I grew up with never miss a chance to make fun of me for working in an industry (Internet marketing) that they could never even begin to understand. One of my favorite social platforms is Twitter. I also just so happen to be fanatical about weather, especially in the winter months. Don’t believe me, just ask my wife and daughters. They call me Wendell the Weatherman.
I grew up loving snow and picked up skiing when I was in middle school so that I could have a reason to be outside during the winter months. So, I’m what some would label a ‘snow lover’ and I am ok with that, because if it wasn’t for snow, I wouldn’t be living in the Northeast anymore (there I said it).
Because of my love of snow, I have always been ‘that guy‘ that is following the weather and trying to be the first to report it to my friends. By the way, my friends has evolved greatly over my lifetime. When I was in high school I would talk about the weather to my friends in person, but now I report it on every personal social media platform that I own. I know those that follow me on social media and that are reading this post are shaking your heads and saying “he’s not lying.”
I started by following radio, television and newspaper weather reports because, hey that was all that we had back in the pre-internet stone ages (1980 and 90’s). Then came the Internet and now I’m going to the big meteorology sites like the Weather Channel and AccuWeather to get the scoop on the next winter storm. I also check out the local media forecasts, which here in Lancaster is WGAL and Fox43. I learned quickly that the more local the forecaster, the more precise the forecast. Don’t believe me, when is the last time that the Weather Channel got the local forecast even remotely correct?
So enough rambling, that brings me to today. I have finally found a weather resource that is officially my go to. That forecaster is Millersville University Weather Information Center and specifically the Twitter account for E. Horst, MU WIC. The twitter handle is @MUweather. Thanks to @MUweather I don’t have to search out any other forecasters and scratch my head and ask myself if I can count on them or will they be way out in left field.
The @MUweather forecasts are spot on, but even more importantly, I would have never known about this resource unless they were on Twitter. If this was just a simple website with a few people sharing their forecasts on social media, sure I might have checked out the site a couple of times, but I would have eventually forgot about it and I wouldn’t be able to count on them like I do now. I would be forced to continue relying on the bigger local media sites who have mobile apps that use push notifications that I used almost exclusively for weather. Now I simply turn on notifications on my iPhone Twitter app and I am notified, on my iPhone, the moment that @MUweather publishes a new tweet. That means I’m completely up to date on the latest forecasts. Forecasts that I can count on and be happy that I don’t have to look anywhere else.
Another awesome resource that @MUweather uses is a Google+ Hangout that is owned by Lancaster Online, our local newspaper here in Lancaster. When a big storm or arctic cold front is moving in, the two get together and record a 10-20 minute video using Google+ Hangout where Eric talks about the upcoming weather event. The brilliance of this strategy is that they can then share this video on all the social platforms, and because it’s on YouTube, you can actually watch the recorded hangout video right on your Facebook news feed or Twitter stream. I know this because I watched one of their videos earlier last week on my Twitter stream while working.
So the moral to the story is that Millersville University Weather Information Center deserves a shout out for embracing social media platforms like Twitter and Google+ hangouts while aligning with and using local media as vehicle to report their weather forecasts. By doing this, they have ‘embraced their localness‘ (a phrase that I like to use). They now have a local audience (3,300+ followers on Twitter) that are looking to them to deliver not only the forecast, but a forecast that at least from my observation, has been as accurate as I’ve seen in Lancaster county minus the sensationalism that many forecasters now employ to get more RT’s, shares on Facebook, and website traffic with no regard to their audience. Speaking of sensationalist forecasts, Eric had a brilliant explanation of why this is happening, which I was hoping to share, but I cannot find the link. If I do find it, I will definitely update this post and share.