Discussion: Poor Judgment of Social Media

Nathaniel discusses another public outrage again to the Kansas Turnpike Authority for issuing tornado warnings.


When you look up judgment, the dictionary reports “the demonstration or exercise of such ability or capacity.”  Comparing that definition to what the Kansas Turnpike Authority did last night on Twitter is unforgivable.  If you recall a severe weather summary I had posted just over a month ago on August 27, the Kansas Turnpike Authority was blamed for incorrectly sending out a tweet for a tornado warning near Lawrence and Leavenworth in East Central Kansas.  However, this was discussed that the Kansas Turnpike Authority would sit down with their partners at AccuWeather and the National Weather Service forecast offices in Topeka and Wichita.

Twitter: Kansas Turnpike Authority
Twitter: Kansas Turnpike Authority

To begin I am not sure if I would label this post as severe weather, editorial or news because once again the Kansas Turnpike Authority is in very deep water with severe weather.  Last night, on Tuesday, October 4 we had a cold front move through Northeast and East Central Kansas.  At three different times, 7:26 pm, 7:31 pm, and 7:50 pm, the person responsible for the Kansas Turnpike Authority Twitter account sent out tweets for a tornado warning for Shawnee County, and the City of Topeka.

These particular tweets have outraged not only the Shawnee County Emergency Management director, Dustin Nichols, but it has also offended the National Weather Service forecast office in Topeka as well as Topeka television media meteorologists Matt Miller with KSNT-TV, and Jeremy Goodwin of WIBW-TV.  At no time between 7:26 pm and 9:55 pm according to one of the Kansas Turnpike Authority tweets were Shawnee County and the City of Topeka under any threat of tornadoes.

According to Miller at KSNT-TV, Matt immediately took to the air on KSNT and KTKA at 7:32 pm to calm Topekans down from an erratic tweet and ousted the Kansas Turnpike Authority on the air.  A severe thunderstorm warning had been issued later in the evening for Southwest Shawnee County for the city of Auburn at 9:21 pm for nine minutes. KSNT’s MaxTrack Radar had no visible signs of rotation in or near Shawnee County at the time.  Miller took to Facebook and wrote, “This is quite possibly the worst decision I’ve seen made in regards to storm messaging.”  Meanwhile, WIBW-TV’s Jeremy Goodwin went to social media and remarked, “Your goals are reasonable.  In my opinion… the words ‘Tornado’ and ‘Warning’ should not be used together unless issued by the U.S. National Weather Service (NWS).”

Most of us who are outraged wait to hear what the Kansas Turnpike Authority administration if not the Kansas Department of Transportation or Governor Sam Brownback have to follow-up with this.  If it were up to me, I would make sure to sever ties between AccuWeather and the Kansas Turnpike Authority, and not to mention issue a public news conference.  In light of two notable instances where an apology is issued not only to the United States Department of Commerce’s National Weather Service forecast offices in Topeka and Wichita, but to also the county emergency management directors and local media.


  1. News Update – Wednesday, October 5th
    Dustin Nichols, of the Shawnee County Emergency Management relayed an update from the Kansas Turnpike Authority administration that the ties between AccuWeather Enterprise and the Kansas Turnpike Authority have been severed, and that the Kansas Turnpike Authority will NO LONGER post weather warnings on highway message boards and by way of social media.

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