NWS: Don’t Only Rely on Twitter for Weather Information
Twitter will begin charging the National Weather Service and other public safety accounts $42,000 per month for Twitter API access.
Starting April 29, Twitter will no longer be a reliable source of National Weather Service (NWS) updates. The reason for the change is Twitter’s transition from its currently free API (application programming interface) service to a paid subscription model. The social media company will now start charging $42,000 per month to NWS and other public safety agencies for Enterprise access.
Mashable reports that Twitter’s new API policy will limit the NWS’ automated tweets to 50 per 24-hour period. The change means the agency won’t be able to determine which automated emergency alerts go through and which ones don’t get posted, making NWS Twitter accounts unreliable during weather emergencies.
According to a statement from the NWS to Mashable:
“Without this automated process, it would take minutes for forecasters to manually prepare warning information into a tweet. For every warning issued, seconds could make the difference between life and death.”
The NWS anticipates that the new API limits will go into effect April 29, but several of its API accounts were suspended on April 14.
Other weather services like Instant Weather in Canada will also be affected by the API change, as will earthquake-tracking accounts. Various public transportation accounts will also be prevented from sharing up-to-the-minute information on Twitter. Some of those accounts are urging the public to pressure Twitter to make exceptions on their behalf.
The NWS told Mashable that Twitter users should not rely solely on NWS Twitter accounts for up-to-date weather forecasts, watches, and warnings. The agency advises everyone to have several ways to receive weather forecasts, including weather.gov.
The NWS has used Twitter’s API service since 2014 to auto-post warnings for tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, and flash floods. Its feeds are followed by emergency managers, the general public, and the media for potentially life-saving information.
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