Personal moment: Of all the people I have interviewed for my gig here at StyleBlueprint, not one has my husband asked me as many questions about as when I was planning my chat with the guys behind NashvilleSevereWeather.com (aka the “Nashville Severe Weather guys”). So I invited my hubby to jump in on the call with me … and he did! Yes, these guys are rock stars in our community, one filled with many celebrities. Okay, personal moment over. Let’s get started:
Tornadoes and Snow Domes: Nashville’s Weather
Does Nashville have a snow dome that repels the magical white flakes from hitting our fabulous city? Surely you’ve heard that term after all the false snow alarms last year. Well, no, Nashville does not have a snow dome, even though it may seem that way, and the guys behind Nashville Severe Weather (@NashSevereWx) certainly chuckle that this innocent term took off so virally last year after so many near misses in January and February 2014. But their tongue-in-cheek use of the term did get picked up far and wide, and it was fun to speculate on whether such a thing could exist!
While humor is a part of how @NashSevereWx delivers information on the weather (they have an endless library of gifs and memes that are laugh-out-loud hilarious), their real purpose is to keep the residents of Davidson and Williamson counties safe with up-to-the-minute weather information. Local news needs to cover the entire Middle Tennessee area, including southern Kentucky and northern Alabama. @NashSevereWx concentrates on only a small area within that wide range to which other services and media are obligated. As we look at the coming tornado season, you may want to start following these guys on Twitter, along with their 35,000 other area followers.
Not a Twitter person? It’s worth opening up a Twitter account just to follow this one account. They utilize their huge network of social media followers, cutting edge radar technology and constant contact with the National Weather Service – Nashville (NWS-Nashville) to ensure that Davidson County and Williamson County residents have accurate information, especially when it comes to tornadic activity. Yes, they talk about winter weather, as well, and we still have a few more weeks of the possibility of white powder dusting our streets.
So who are these guys? That’s what we were wondering. We tracked them down and found two great guys with a true passion when it comes to weather. Will Minkoff is a Continuity and Preparedness Professional (perfect, huh?!), and David Drobny is an attorney. In 2011, they each had separate Twitter feeds that were roughly doing the same thing, just one in Williamson County and one in Nashville. They had both taken advantage of new technologies that allowed nonmeteorologists to purchase professional-quality radar software and the access to weather data. Knowing that two people could be more effective than one, David sought out to find a partner, and soon @NashSevereWx grew from just David’s Twitter account to include Will’s updates as well. Today, they even have an intern to help them keep up their website.
During any storm, you can find them sitting in front of their computers, deciphering information to break down what the public-at-large needs to know. When it comes to tornadoes, the NWS-Nashville does a great job of keeping us assessed on what may happen and what has happened, but it’s impossible to tell when one is touching down in real time … unless you are there. Radar can detect within minutes after a tornado touches down. Thus, that hole of information during real time is filled with eyes relaying information through this vast @NashSevereWx network. Additionally, NWS-Nashville has granted David and Will access to NWS Chat, an online resource only available to media and emergency management.
With the NWS-Nashville, @NashSevereWx has developed a hashtag #tSpotter. If anyone sees winter or severe weather, you can report it via Twitter with your location, attach a photo if you have it and the NWS-Nashville will see it. This drastically improves their ability to report on weather and predict what is coming. So, for all you weather nerds out there, here is your moment of glory! Of course, all true weather nerds in the area already know about @NashSevereWx …
I asked David and Will if tornadoes are more frequent now in Tennessee than in the past. It’s a difficult thing to answer, in that Tennessee’s topography is far different than the flat Midwest state of Kansas, for example. There, you can see a tornado from miles away. In Tennessee, the line of sight is interrupted by our rolling hills, so it can be hard to know what’s going on just 50 yards from your own house. This means that for years more tornadoes were seen in these flat states, but that does not necessarily mean that more actually occurred there. Tornadoes have traditionally needed to be seen in order to be recorded, so in rural areas with rolling hills, less have been seen historically, making the change in tornadic activity hard to track.
Interestingly, Tennessee currently has the highest percentage of nocturnal tornadoes. This means you need to have a line of defense that allows you to sleep soundly but simultaneously stay safe. If you are tired of having a weather alarm alert you about a tornado warning, only to realize that the warning is for an area 20 miles from where you live, we hear ya. Will and David recommend the StormWatch+ app, which only notifies you if your specific location (within 3 miles) is threatened. It’s loud and just what you need. Please download it and be safe at stormwatchplus.com.
So where are they going with this? This is not a for-profit gig; this is their hobby. They are not meteorologists, but they do have a unique relationship with the National Weather Service locally and this model is starting to be one the NWS is looking to mimic in many locations throughout the country. They are breaking down barriers and proving that smart, passionate, boots-on-the-ground people can be the perfect bridge between the NWS and the public-at-large. This shows a tangible benefit of social media, and you are the beneficiary. Will and David’s mission is to keep you safe. As David says, “It’s worth the inconvenience of 25 minutes in a closet when your life can be on the line.”
So follow @NashSevereWx, in addition to your local news (it’s good to have many sources for your information, as Will and David readily say and they also are big fans of all of our local meterologists). You will be entertained AND you will have accurate information to keep you safe. Following them also allows you to giggle at Panic Catfish. I’ll just let you learn more about that (think Snowbird’s arch enemy …) as you follow along.
Nashville Severe Weather:
And, download this app: stormwatchplus.com.