Tech Thursday: Using Social Media for Storm Updates
It’s no secret that last week’s hurricane took a major toll on the East Coast and its residents; with so many outages, how was anyone able to stay current with news of the situation?
Both Facebook and Twitter played a big part in helping to keep everyone informed. Whether you follow the actual sources of the information, or your friends do and repost, everything anyone needed to know about the storm was all there—flight cancellations, public transportation announcements, and even voting location changes—at the touch of their fingers. I kept myself up-to-date mostly via information streaming through my Facebook feed, with a few glances at my Twitter feed.
But you can’t always rely on your friends to provide this information, so just in case, here are a few important accounts to keep an eye on to stay in the know when it comes to inclement weather.
For up-to-the-minute information about the approaching storm, take a look at both Weather Channel and Weather Underground is essential: @WeatherChannel; facebook.com/TheWeatherChannel; @Wunderground; facebook.com/Wunderground
Airlines: If you have a flight booked and a storm approaches, following your airline on Twitter will help keep you informed about any potential cancellations. @FlightStats another great resource on Twitter. This will help you determine a plan of action if you find yourself stranded because of the storm.
Top news sites, like CNN or NBC, will keep you in the loop with breaking news that you might not find elsewhere. @CNNbrk; facebook.com/CNN; @NBCNews; facebook.com/NBCNews. Besides the major news providers, your local news source(s) can be a wealth of information, as they will have their fingers on your city's pulse. And if you're in a city with major public transportation, be sure to check in with them as well so you know about any service changes and/or suspensions.
You'll also want to see what your mayor's office has to say, because sometimes news comes from unsuspecting sources, and you might not hear about it otherwise. Vacation rental site @Airbnb announced that it would waive its booking fees for those needing to book a last-minute stay after vacating their homes, receiving praise from NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, which really helped spread the word.
I should mention, social sites weren't just there to provide information. They also provided physical help to those in need. Social couch-surfing site, Tripping, noted that many of their members offering their homes to those displaced by the storm, some for free and others for significantly discounted rates.
And last (and perhaps most important) as a tip: whenever a major storm is expected to hit, be sure to fully charge up your phones while you still have a chance. Additionally, it's a good idea to invest in a portable charger, just in case, like the AViiQ Portable Charging Station with Battery Pack ($169.99) or the HyperJuice Plug ($159.95), both of which can fully charge a phone several times. There are more affordable versions, like the Mophie Juice Pack Powerstation Mini ($59.95) and the Duracell Powerhouse Charger ($22.99), but they have a shorter charge output.
Joshua Pramis is the social media editor and resident tech aficionado at Travel + Leisure. Follow him on Twitter: @joshuapramis