From Alerts to Apologies: Tracking a Meteorologist’s Tough Night on Twitter

When NYC's blizzard fizzled, one man boldly owned up to it

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For ages, when a dire weather prediction came up lacking, there was little the average person could do beyond shaking a fist at the TV. But now we have Twitter, an outlet not just for bitching, but also for atonement.

Late last night, after New York City and nearby areas went into full disaster-prep mode in expectation of several feet of snow, National Weather Service meteorologist Gary Szatkowski took to Twitter to apologize when it became clear the region would receive only several inches.

For most New Yorkers, the rather extreme weather warnings simply resulted in an early (if frustrating) dismissal from work and a bonus snow day. But there was also a tremendous economic and logistical impact on the communities involved. Recognizing this, Szatkowski, lead meteorologist for the NWS office in Mt. Holly, N.J., was effusive in his apologies.

Here's a chronological recap of how Szatkowski's messaging and tone changed from Sunday night to early this morning:

On Sunday, Szatkowski was sharing National Weather Service predictions that anticipated around two feet of snow for the New York area.

Sunday afternoon, the National Weather Service released a blizzard warning that largely set the tone for the next 24 hours by calling the storm "a crippling and potentially historic blizzard."


By early Monday, though, Szatkowski was beginning to express concerns that earlier predictions might not come to pass, at least not on the level of 30 inches.


Shortly before midnight, Szatkowski's tone shifted considerably as he and the rest of the National Weather Service realized conditions would not be incredibly severe for New York and New Jersey. By then, government officials had issued road travel bans and suspended mass transit, essentially bringing one of the world's largest cities to a halt.


As you might expect, he received a few rather pointed criticisms.


But overwhelmingly, Szatkowski's openness and transparency on Twitter generated vocal support and appreciation from those following his updates.


@griner David Griner is creative and innovation editor at Adweek and host of Adweek's podcast, "Yeah, That's Probably an Ad."
Publish date: January 27, 2015 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT