NEW BRAUNFELS, TX — Weather forecasting has evolved by leaps and bounds in the last few decades. Still, as slick as radars can be, your photo of the rain pooling in your backyard could be just as helpful.
The National Weather Service has always asked for the general public to send them photos or videos of rain, sleet, hail, snow, floods, winds — basically anytime Mother Nature makes a statement. They have been asking since the 1980’s says Melissa Huffman, lead meteorologist for the National Weather Service office in New Braunfels.
“With the emergence of social media, we’ve been opened up to a whole new realm of people who can provide these reports. We now have a much more dense observation of networks, so the more people we get invested in these reports, we can actually get a better sense of what’s going on in a storm,” says Huffman.
Those photos can determine what a storm is doing as it trucks toward any populated area. Some photos and videos are taken by storm chasers like Brandon Sullivan, a Oklahoma native who recently moved here from Atlanta.
“Storm chasers are live streaming video to the National Weather Service and they’re watching in real time and making warning decisions – so everything getting better is definitely helping,” says Sullivan.
In some cases, photos and videos of weather events captured on a cellphone can better determine what happened. This is usually the case when the NSW is tasked in determining if a tornado touched down, or if it was just a lot of wind.
If you find yourself in a safe place to take photos of the rain that is expected in the next two days, and would like to share them with the National Weather Service via social media, use the hashtag #eWXspotter.
And of course, email them to us at KXAN too. We’d appreciate it, as well.