People and Pets


Social Media:
Who to Follow

During times of natural disasters such as tropical storms and severe weather, social media is bombarded with information. But this information can be misleading or only partially true. The challenge is determining what is credible and trustworthy.

Look for facts from sources that have trained expertise in meteorology, disaster preparedness, and emergency management. Information from these sources is provided by highly trained professionals who work in the best interest of the public.

Several factors are considered when forecasting the weather, and these factors can change as the weather develops. Keep checking back with these reputable sources to get the most updated information.

Remember these tips when validating information from social media:


  • Hurricanes are rated on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale ranging from 1 to 5 with 5 being the strongest with wind speed exceeding 156 miles per hour. Look for information that uses the numbers within this scale.

  • The direct path of a hurricane can be challenging to predict because several scenarios can be in place. Reputable sources will only report 72 to 120 hours before the expected impact and will use the National Hurricane Center Track Forecast Cone along with their maps. Look for information that uses the NHC Track Forecast Cone or that describes several possible scenarios, not just one track to a direct landfall point.

  • Follow your local government agencies such as the Emergency Management Agency (EMA), government officials, and the U. S. Department of Agriculture to find the latest update on evacuation notices.

Severe Weather/Tornadoes

  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Weather Service (NOAA/NWS) Storm Prediction Center uses a convective outlook map to predict the probability of severe thunderstorms in a given area. Reputable sources often use this map along with their own expertise to provide information.

  • No two events are the same. Severe thunderstorms develop and strengthen based on a number of factors including instability of the air and wind shear. There can also be limiting factors, and the degree of each factor is never the same. Reliable information will usually not compare two severe weather events because every severe weather outbreak is different.

  • Meteorology and atmospheric sciences have made great strides in technology and accuracy, but the technology has not become so advanced that meteorologists can pinpoint when severe weather will hit a specific location. Reliable information uses general large areas on a map and time frames of when events might occur.

stormy road

Other trusted social media sources include local and regional newspapers as well as radio and television stations.

This document is part of a larger publication titled Emergency Handbook: Preparation and Recovery (ACES-2168).

The Emergency Handbook is available digitally as an iBook and on the web. Use the left-hand navigation bar to access all topics and pages. This publication is not available in print. To download or print the pages you need, please look for Printable PDF Download this information.

For more information, contact your county Extension office.