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Tools and Applications
Because there are so many aspects of covering the weather, we provide you with a list of resources that will help you cover the weather. We also provide examples and guidelines on what we'd love to see!
See It Snap It Send It
We recommend our Weather Network Reporters sign up for a See It Snap It Send It account. It's free and uses the "Cell phone Journalist" service. When you register your cell phone or email address with the service, it will automatically recognize you as the sender of photos when you upload photos or videos to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You don't have to use the service, but any photos or videos you send will be listed as "anonymous." We want you to get credit for your work!
It's also where videos and photos uploaded from our WECT News and WECT Weather app are sent.
WECT Smart phone Apps
We offer two great apps for Android and iPhone users. We recommend them both, but the WECT Weather app has plenty of tools you can use.
It also allows you to submit video and photos directly to our See It Snap It Send It service.
Streaming Video Apps
Bambuser - We're big fans of this app here because of it's ability to stream (and archive!) videos from smart phones, tablets and PCs. Imagine being able to send us LIVE video straight from your cell phone. Or set up a live shot right outside your window!
Skype - For phoners and interviews, we love to use Skype. This works best with a PC/laptop with webcam capabilities and high-speed internet. It's the preferred video option for interviews.
UStream - UStream offers many of the same features as Bambuser, including live streaming from your phone or tablet.
We are avid users of social media! Here are a few guidelines for reporting using Facebook and Twitter.
Facebook - Our WECT News facebook page is always very active during severe weather. Feel free to provide updates or post pictures directly to this page. From the newsroom and weather center we are constantly monitoring this page. It is often one of the fastest ways to get information to our newsroom as well as the public.
Twitter - @WECTWeather is our handle! We hope that when you sign up to become a First Alert Weather Network Reporter, you'll pass along your own Twitter handle. We'll Follow you and even add you to our Weather Network "list." You can also follow @WECTNews.
Tips and Recommendations
Safety and Preparation
First and foremost never put yourself and others in danger! We want you to provide us with info in a safe and responsible manner.
We also recommend keeping your smart phone or digital camera ready at all times. You never know when you'll want to capture something amazing on camera!
Download our WECT Weather app so you can easily upload pictures or video with a simple touch of your screen.
Reporting Severe Weather
In times of severe weather, your reports will become invaluable to providing "ground truth" and conditions in your community.
Any significant reports (damage, sightings etc) you pass along to the First Alert Weather Team are immediately passed to the National Weather Service. These reports can help in verification, issuance of warnings, or potentially life saving information to folks in the path of dangerous weather.
If you think it's important, it probably is. The more detail and information you can provide, the better. But here are a few guidelines.
Location : Be as specific as possible. County, city and street are all important! An actual address or intersection is better. Remember, some roads are very long! Saying Highway 17 gives no indication of where something occurred.
Time/Duration : Try and give as specific a time of the event as you can (if possible). The duration can also be important for hail or wintry precipitation.
Rain : Rainfall totals, duration and intensity of rain
Flooding : Streets closed? How much water is covering road? Is it impassable?
Trees/limbs down : How big are the limbs or trees? Were they healthy trees? What type of tree?
Hail : Size of hail (Use standardized descriptors (dime size, quarter size, golf ball size). Do not say marble-sized hail (marbles can be all kinds of different sizes!).
Winds : If you have a wind instrument that gives you numbers GREAT! Unless you are a pro at wind estimates, leave it to the sensors.
Structural Damage : Be specific on location and severity. Was it an old structure? Or fairly new?
Winter Weather : For snow, sleet and freezing rain, start and end times are important. Also, any change between precipitation type. Of course, depth of snow or sleet is desired.
The National Weather Service offers severe weather storm spotting training sessions at various times throughout the year (mainly in Spring). These sessions can help to fine tune your spotting skills. They also have programs like CoCoRaHS if you enjoy reporting rainfall or snowfall from your home weather station.
The possibilities are endless on how you cover the weather and send us video. Of course, there are a few basic rules for certain aspects of the weather.
Showcase the weather
Of course, the sky will be the single-most important aspect of your videos and pictures, but there are more creative ways to tell the weather, especially with video.
For example, for a pleasant day with a light breeze, try and find a light tree swaying in the wind or flags flapping. But don't forget to include the sky!
On rainy or windy days you can get a bit more creative. Show puddles or cars driving through wet streets. And the sounds of wind or rain can really tell the weather story for you!
Tips for Shooting Video
1) NEVER put yourself in danger
2) Steady : Avoid pans and zooms.
3) Action! : Try and shoot something with movement (the subject, not the camera). This can be traffic on a street, flags waving, flowing water
4) Adapt to the conditions : Different weather means different techniques.
Rain : Rain itself is difficult to capture unless it's falling heavily. Try capture the drops making ripples on a lake, river or puddle. Or show cars outside your house on wet roadways.
Nighttime : Try using a street light or other light source to show falling rain or snow.
Wind : Flags waving. Trees swaying, pinwheels or anemometers, anything with movement. Strong wind can also make for great sound. People holding on to hats or scarves.
Sunny : Nice, clear days are harder than you'd think to photograph. Clear blue sky is boring, so try to liven up your shot with subject matter (flowers, animals, scenery, capture the sun through trees).
Stormy : Lightning is dangerous, so please avoid putting yourself in dangerous to photograph severe weather.
Hot : Kids running through sprinklers or in inflatable pools.
Examples of types of video reports:
Simple Weather Video : Steady shot of outdoor conditions. This can be rain, wind, or bright sunny skies. Try and allow 10-30 seconds of video.
[ Watch an example from Rebecca Harran near Watha]
Weather "Whip" : This is a quick video report of yourself (or anyone really) outside providing a brief report on the current conditions, or what you've seen today.
"This is Colin Hackman in Burgaw where we've seen a few clouds throughout the day. The high in my backyard reached 76 degrees and we had about a tenth of an inch of rain from a shower early this morning! Have a great day!"
[ Watch an Example from Christopher Cawley in Whiteville]
Teachers/Schools : Take your class outside and showcase the weather:
"We've had a beautiful day in Belville with temperatures in the 50's and just a few clouds. I'm Mrs. Johnson with my 3rd grade science class at *Belville Elementary School*"
And have all the students say/yell Belville Elementary School. Get them involved. And get creative! If it's raining, show everyone under umbrellas. Is it the coldest day of the year? Show everyone huddling together to stay warm and shivering! Have fun with it!
Churches : Have the pastor take video outside of the church just before Sunday service as parishioners are coming in.
"It's been a foggy start to this Sunday morning, but we're hoping for a wonderful service and a beautiful day. I'm Pastor Smith from West Greenville Church in eastern Bladen County"
Streaming Video : Try streaming from your smart phone, laptop, PC or tablet. Let us know you have a steady live stream set up and we'll be able to use your stream live on the air! This can be invaluable in severe weather situations. Show us the conditions as a storm approaches, or during the height of a storm. It can also be used in the event of storm damage from a scene.
[ Watch an example from John Blake in Chadbourn ]