The emergence of social media has affected almost every aspect of Americans' lives, especially how news information is accessed and digested. In the field of meteorology, its effect is profound.
Using Twitter and Facebook, citizens aren't able to just access weather information from expert meteorologists, but also submit content to develop a well-rounded and factual reflection of the weather event.
Rick Smith, warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service, explained how crowd-sourced photos of weather, including hail and tornadoes, helps illustrate current conditions.
"Any evidence - especially visual evidence - of significant weather we can provide helps validate and verify the threat in people's minds," he said.
Jason Samenow, weather editor for the Capital Weather Gang, also stated how important crowd-sourced photos have become.
"Visuals are critical for telling the weather story. They make the story real - being providing ground truth or validation for the forecasts we provide. More importantly, they show how the weather is impacting people's lives," Samenow said.
As social media continues to surge in popularity, weather content can become even more interactive.
"We are always learning and benefiting from the observations from our readers - whether they're spotting sun dogs on a tranquil day or noting a road flooded out during a storm," Samenow concluded.