Jared Smith didn’t start Weather Charleston 13 years ago because he had too much free time.
The longtime director of software engineering at BoomTown and the Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador of Excellence founded the Twitter account out of love, sharing his passion for the weather with his family and friends. The handful have now amassed over 49,000 followers, including celebrities and politicians who vacation here, have homes here, or attend events.
“Jeff Burton of NASCAR contacted me to ask me how his home was on Kiawah during Hurricane Matthew,” Smith said.
Charleston Weather (@ChsWx) offers late-breaking weather content for the Charleston metro area only, including Charleston, Dorchester, and Berkeley counties, which sets it apart from TV stations that cater to a larger, sometimes unrelated audience, has Smith said. There will be no information about Columbia, Greenville, Georgetown or even Georgia on the username accessible on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
“The ultimate goal was to use this as a proof of concept to send warning information to the National Weather Service on Twitter just for Charleston,” Smith said. “With social media, we can target at a very local level. If it wasn’t Berkeley, Charleston, or Dorchester County, I wasn’t talking about it unless it suited us.
An engineer now, Smith went to journalism college, and his college skills were essential in conveying the message that discipline is essential, he said. Those looking to connect with him for his puns and quirky comments can head to his personal account, but he keeps his messages to Charleston Weather, a strictly tagged conversation.
“The only thing my journalism degree has helped me do is become confident in telling people stories,” he said. “I learned so much about the theory and the psychology behind it, which makes me an effective manager in my day-to-day work, but also an effective communicator when hell breaks loose.”
Smith’s message is disciplined and his editorial stance is to shut up when nothing is happening to cut the noise. This strategy emphasizes that when Smith publishes, something urgent happens.
While @ChsWx is a side project for Smith, he’s been a lifelong weather fanatic, writing about local storms, taking weather classes, and broadcasting speed cameras since the early 2000s.
“I can not only read a notice, but I can translate it to people,” he said. “I can take radar images and put them in context. “
At the start of his social media days, Smith took some very technical warnings and posted them himself, joking that he was the original bot for his program.
Over time, however, social media gained ground, hashtags gained ground, and Smith’s reports gained momentum. Posting photos of neighbors in the ravages of time also bolstered his presence and the community’s trust in Smith as a local and trusted source.
“One thing that was really cool was that we were able to take real-time reports, like photos of downtown flooding, and share them,” he said. “No one thought these photos would be useful, but it turns out they were valuable.”
Soon, subscribers started messaging Smith about marriages, flight statuses, and even storm phobias.
In 2011, Smith reached critical mass and the #CHSWx hashtag took off. Ten years later, Smith still runs the account solo, funding it out of his own pocket. He has a Patreon counts if subscribers want to help with day-to-day costs, but Smith doesn’t market it or post donation requests.
“It’s deeply personal to me. It’s very informative,” he said. “Take my education, mix it with my weird interests and luckily I was able to do something useful for the community. . “
Contact Teri Errico Griffis at 843-849-3144.