NORMAN, Okla. (KFOR) – The National Weather Service is taking issue with a policy change coming to Twitter.

With social media being a place where people from all over can get weather information, a recent policy change to automated tweets on Twitter will affect the way the NWS gets that information to you.

“Especially this time of year in Oklahoma, we can’t overemphasize the importance of having multiple ways to get a warning,” Rick Smith said. A warning coordination meteorologist with the NWS in Norman.

Smith is talking about the importance of getting storm warnings and watches for that matter in multiple ways.

“The most popular way for people to get weather information from watching television, that’s understandable,” Smith said. “But you’ve got to have more than that if your power goes out.”

One of the NWS’s ways of getting that information out there is social media. They tweet at a high rate, especially when storms hit. But the social media site is planning to limit the amount of automated tweets to 50 per 24 hours. That’s an obvious issue for NWS Twitter accounts that tweet warnings and watches more than that.

The NWS sent KFOR a statement that can be read in full below.

“Twitter announced a policy change to its Application Programming Interface (API) service that will limit the number of automated tweets to 50 per 24-hour period. When implemented, this change would affect National Weather Service Twitter accounts that auto-tweet more than the new limit. Since 2014, NWS has used Twitter’s API service to auto-post the latest warnings for tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, and flash floods to Twitter feeds that are followed by emergency managers, the media, and people in the path of dangerous weather.

Without this automated process, it would take minutes for forecasters to manually prepare warning information into a tweet. For every warning issued, seconds could make the difference between life and death. Communications via social media is a supplemental service to extend the reach of weather forecasts and information. Twitter feeds do not always reflect the most current information for forecasts, watches, and warnings, and we advise people to have multiple ways to receive weather forecasts including Twitter informed NWS there are no plans for exemptions.

From media reports, we anticipate the new API limits to become effective on April 29, 2023. However, a new issue emerged when several of our API accounts were suspended on Friday, April 14. While some of these accounts were reinstated over the weekend, some remained suspended this morning. None of those accounts had exceeded Twitter’s new API limit. Those, and all other NWS accounts, can still manually issue tweets but will face the challenge of timing and staff capacity that the automated tweets do not face.”

Susan Buchanan, NWS Director of Public Affairs

The NWS though, still urges everyone to get their warnings in multiple ways.

“We never really ant people to rely on Twitter as their warning source,” Smith said. “If that’s all they’re using to get warnings, then there is potential there that you’re going to miss some information.”

We did reach out to both Twitter Support and Elon Musk for comment on the changes. We have not yet heard back.