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Meet Ryan Hall, internet meteorologist and YouTuber


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There may not be a more pervasive internet weather personality than 27-year-old Ryan Hall from Eastern Kentucky. Unlike other popular weather names, Hall doesn’t gain followers from traditional network news or The Weather Channel — he does it on social media.

Non-meteorologists like Hall—have popped up on social platforms like YouTube and TikTok, sharing updates and forecast information for people who might be more willing to scroll through their phones than check the official National Weather Service forecast. Their growth also worries some meteorologists, who worry about the tactics used by this new generation of weathercasters to attract viewers.

Since Hall began uploading videos to YouTube in January 2021, his social media following has seen tremendous growth. In December 2021, Hall went live on YouTube to cover the tornado outbreak that spawned two EF-4 twisters that devastated parts of Kentucky. After that, Hall’s subscription grew by nearly 250,000 in just two months, according to social media monitoring platform SocialBlade. In April, Hall announced plans to expand its presence on the ground by building a fleet of storm-chasing vehicles with colorful, branded decals. At least one of them was seen in pursuit Hurricane Ian.

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To date, Hall has collected 828,000 subscribers Ryan Hall has 1.5 million followers on his YouTube channel, Y’all, and on his TikTok account. His YouTube videos, recently uploaded about twice a week, regularly garner hundreds of thousands of views.

The videos are fast-paced, full of vividly colored maps. Hall has amassed a rabid fan base drawn to the public presentation, with videos that go deeper than a typical TV broadcast. Hall told The Washington Post that he uses a team of meteorologists, editors and writers to produce his videos.

After Hall posted a Thanksgiving YouTube video featuring a “massive storm” after the holiday, which racked up more than a million views, fans raved about his latest creation. One commentator described him as “straightforward and forthright”, while another said his predictions were “more accurate than any local, or even national, predictions”.

On Twitter, where Hall has more than 110,000 followers, he describes himself Like the “Airman of the Internet”.

Critics raise concerns about the hype

As Hall’s following grew, some in the aerial community questioned how he presented his videos, pointing to specific titles and images that made promises not backed up by science. Critics argue that its headlines, if exaggerated, have the potential to undermine trust in meteorologists.

For example, some of them they mocked o Thanksgiving “massive storm” video, as models are divided on whether a significant storm will develop.

Hall also came under fire for a pair of video titles in August and September: “Exactly When You’ll See Snow This Year (2022)” and “Exactly How Much Snow You’ll See This Year (2022).”

In the active online weather community on Twitter, the snowfall video title and accompanying thumbnail teaser drew sharp criticism from meteorologists and weather enthusiasts who disputed the overpromised information. One critical tweet drew over 400 likes and dozens of replies and quote tweets and argued with the miniature was misleading because it suggested parts of the country could see up to 4 feet of snow, including areas where such amounts are rare or unrealistic.

The use of eye-catching images and hyped messaging to drive clicks is hardly limited to Hall – it takes little research to find YouTubers with no clear credentials using thumbnails of photoshopped hurricanes on land and over water. Without naming specific creators, Hall told The Washington Post that there are YouTubers “using a lot of misleading titles and thumbnails.” but he will not include himself in this group.

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Hall said his goal is to capture audiences missed by traditional sources of weather information such as television, radio, and the National Weather Service. To do this, Hall said, he uses “the same tactics” that other creators use on social media platforms: flashy sketches, large blocks of text and vibrant images.

“For the most part, I pass on the official information from meteorologists and government agencies that people need,” Hall said. “I’m doing it in a different way than most people have ever seen in the world of air.”

Still, some meteorologists are worried. In a recent podcast, James Spann, chief meteorologist at the ABC television affiliate in Birmingham and host of the WeatherBrains podcast, said the way some YouTubers click doesn’t align with his own values.

“There’s just something in my fabric, in my soul, where honesty is a big thing, and that’s one of the downsides I see. [about YouTube] To be a YouTuber, you have to play the game to live up to their standards,” Spann said on a recent podcast episode.

While Hall agrees that weather misinformation on social media is a problem, he doesn’t view his videos as clickbait or malicious, and even he mocked the critics. He defends some of his more controversial posts: He argued that people are attracted to a video that contains the necessary nuance and content.

“The title was enough of a ‘hook’ to get people interested in the content of the video,” Hall said of the video, “Exactly How Much Snow You’ll See This Year (2022).” The video itself is a “science-based seasonal report explaining the averages and the impact of La Nina on our winters here. it was nothing more than a look. [United States].”

Kim Klockow McClain, a meteorologist and chief of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Behavioral Research Division, said that while the jury is out on how viewers perceive YouTube thumbnails, research has shown that people’s fixation on thumbnails can be problematic. .

“People tend to make judgments about risk based on the first information they receive and then update from that reference point,” Klockow said in an email to The Washington Post. “If the first reference point is extreme, even after corrections based on the content in the video, their judgments may remain more extreme than the situation warrants.”

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Katie Nickolaou, meteorologist and TikTok user with more than 478,000 followers, said she believes the best captions and thumbnails are catchy, interesting and true. He said headlines and images that don’t deliver on promises can have dangerous ripple effects.

“It just won’t happen [the user] if you stop clicking on that creator’s videos, they will be less likely to click on or trust other content creators’ videos about the weather,” Nickolaou said. “This can be extremely harmful, as it can slow down or even prevent the dissemination of potentially life-saving information from meteorologists.”

Ultimately, Hall believes he and meteorologists — whether they use social media or not — are all on the same team, educating and informing people. With the upcoming severe weather events, Hall said, he has shifted from a “weather-fun” style to a more serious tone. Still, Hall said he learned from the mess around his thumbnails, adding that some of the backlash forced his team to “reevaluate our marketing.”

Hall said the growth his platform has seen has allowed him to grow his business and create more jobs for meteorologists. Hall has also helped those affected by severe storms, which he says wouldn’t be possible without the growth from the way he sells his videos.

“I have been able to donate over $100,000 to survivors tornadoes & hurricanes directly by distributing supplies, cash and even new cars to people who have lost their lives to Mother Nature’s wrath, none of which would be possible without our modern approach to marketing,” said Hall.

“If any of this is ‘wrong,’ I don’t want to be right,” Hall said.





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