Tweeting up a storm
September 24, 2013
By Christina Corrales-Toy
Issaquah resident shares his passion for weather
When rare thunderstorms pounded the area in early September, Issaquah resident Justin Shaw was not staring out the windows of his Talus home, marveling at the lightning strikes.
He was staring at a computer screen, tracking the storms’ paths and experiencing the extreme weather virtually with the more than 1,100 followers of his Seattle-weather themed Twitter account.
“It was almost more fun to be on Twitter talking about the storms than actually watching them,” he said. “It’s like this big party with all of these weather nerds uniting together.”
A self-professed weather geek, and proud of it, Shaw created the Seattle Weather Blog, and its accompanying Twitter account, as an outlet for one of his greatest interests.
It is just a hobby, though, since Shaw currently works in marketing for a downtown Seattle law firm. Whenever he has lunch or a break, he’s looking up weather statistics with the National Weather Service, or tracking a storm with online radars.
He combs through the data, often looking for something interesting to say about today’s weather and how it relates to the past, like the time he noted that Seattle was on tap for the warmest Aug. 16 since the day in 1977 when Elvis Presley died.
“There’s kind of this rush of excitement that I get when I’m doing it,” Shaw said. “I like finding a cool stat that no one really knows about yet.”
During severe storms, Shaw’s Twitter followers share with him the weather they’re seeing in their respective areas. He’ll often tweet about the weather he sees from his Talus townhouse, which is always a bit more extreme than in other places, he said.
“We definitely get a lot more rain because we’re kind of on top of a hill,” he said. “If it’s really hot in Seattle, it will be hotter up here. If it’s really cold there, it will be colder here.”
As his Twitter account approaches nearly 1,200 followers, Shaw said he’s definitely learned things about the average local weather watcher.
People tend to be very interested in the amount of rainfall the area gets, and the more extreme the weather, hot or cold, the more people have something to say about it, he said.
What surprised Shaw the most about local weather enthusiasts, though, was their preference for typical cloudy, misty Pacific Northwest days.
“Normally, you think of warm, sunny weather and people are excited,” he said. “People here are sick of it. About 80 percent of people don’t want it, which I thought was interesting.”
Shaw’s Twitter account has attracted attention from local television meteorologists, where he can often be seen conversing with them and sharing notes.
“They’re really friendly guys so we’ll interact a bunch and kind of geek out about stuff that no one else cares about,” he said.
His passion for all things atmospheric began in 1993, after Shaw experienced the infamous Inauguration Day storm as a Redmond second-grader.
That Jan. 20 storm brought hurricane-force winds to the Puget Sound area, killing six people and leaving more than 600,000 without power, all as President Bill Clinton was set to begin his first term in office.
“It was like the exact moment that Bill Clinton got sworn in so it kind of just added to the pandemonium, because our class wanted to watch the inauguration but the power was out,” he said.
Unsurprisingly, Shaw’s favorite weather plays on the extremes. He finds major windstorms, thunderstorms and snowstorms the most exciting.
Shaw said he dreams of one day getting a call from The Weather Channel, asking him to write for them, but until then, he’s fine giving people regular weather updates on Twitter, and sharing his self-taught weather knowledge on his blog.
“I want to get more people excited about the weather,” he said. “You think of Seattle and you don’t really think of extreme weather, but crazy things can happen here, too.”
On the Web
Join Justin Shaw as he follows the Pacific Northwest’s extreme weather on Twitter at www.twitter.com/KSeattleWeather or on his blog at www.seattleweatherblog.com.