Cheryl Santa Maria, staff writer
May 31, 2012 — Environment Canada confirms a tornado in Ontario following damage reports and photos submitted to the TWN website, Facebook and Twitter pages.
Earlier this week, Environment Canada confirmed Ontario's second tornado of 2012 -- thanks, in part, to viewers of The Weather Network.
"The radar was showing signs of rotation in Bourget, but when our audience started sending in videos and pictures of damage in the area, we were able to get a first-hand look at what was happening on the ground," says Alexandra Pope, social media coordinator for The Weather Network.
Environment Canada was also paying attention.
Photos on The Weather Network's website, combined with conversations on social media outlets, prompted the organization to send a team out to the city where it was able to confirm that a tornado had touched down.
Gina Ressler, a meteorologist at The Weather Network, says that EC depends on first-hand accounts when severe weather rolls through.
"In order for Environment Canada to confirm a tornado, they need some kind of evidence -- whether that be from photos or videos or from data collected in a damage survey," she explains.
"If they've received a lot of damage reports that they think might have been caused by a tornado, they'll send out a survey team."
Alexandra says that user-generated content and social media are starting to play an active role in the way weather news is reported.
"Twitter and Facebook can provide us with localized reports, the minute a story breaks," she says.
"We consider social media to be an important part of our active weather coverage and we appreciate all the support we've received from our viewers."