Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Sherman-Morris, Kathleen

Committee Member

Gutter, Barrett F.

Committee Member

Brown, Michael E.

Committee Member

Poe, Phillip

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Earth and Atmospheric Science

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Geosciences


As new technology has emerged in the digital era, the public can now choose from a variety of new media from which to get weather information. Weather applications (apps) and social media have emerged as some of the popular new media. This study sought to understand the extent to which these new media are used, how weather apps are perceived, how the news media used Twitter during Hurricane Irma, and how the public engaged with the news media’s tweets. A survey and dataset of tweets were used to evaluate the research questions and hypotheses of this research. The study found that most survey participants used digital sources for weather information, even in severe weather. The weather app was the most used source of all age brackets, though held a stronger majority amongst younger demographics. Numerous relationships were found between weather app usage and gender, smartphone brand and reliance, time of app usage, and app usage frequency. Participants who downloaded a non-standard weather app onto their phone had higher self-perceived weather knowledge and interest.

Weather app users perceived their app to be accurate and sometimes inconsistent, which were both found to be correlated to trust. Perceived app accuracy was also moderately correlated with other aspects of the field of meteorology. Respondents indicated that they accounted for uncertainty in a forecast with time and for regional variability of weather when determining if the forecast verified. However, both conclusions will require further research.

The final study of this dissertation found that content, frequency, and engagement with news media tweets during Irma fluctuated over the storm’s duration and a relationship was found between content and engagement. Smaller television markets showed less coverage and overall change in coverage and engagement compared to larger markets. Finally, a meteorologist’s tweeting of personal content prior to the storm was found to be weakly correlated with the number of retweets received during the storm.

Included in

Meteorology Commons