Mashable's Pete Cashmore has a great write up about the tornados in the Dallas area on Tuesday, and Twitter.
Twitter has proven itself to be a great way for hundreds of thousands of people to discuss an event - live - in real time, whether it's something fun like the Super Bowl or a Royal Wedding, or whether it's something dreadful like a violent revolution.
And, of course, it's great for tracking weather events. I'm signed up for the local radio station alerts through my mobile phone. I think this is important, because I live in a tornado-prone area, and the phone is more likely to wake me up than the sirens are in my neighborhood. Unfortunately, because of internet provider delays, I sometimes don't get these alerts for several minutes, however, so once I'm awake, they aren't particularly useful for keeping up-to-the minute on the location of the storm and exactly where the danger is.
TV is pretty good, but I don't have access to that in my safe room or if the power is out. Facebook is good (I follow all of the popular local weathermen), but sometimes those weathermen are a little busy during a storm.
The beauty of Twitter in events like this is that it's citizen journalism at its finest. Anyone with a mobile phone that still has battery power can tweet exactly what's going on where they are, and include an appropriate #hashtag to alert other people in their area.
In the Dallas tornados, there was absolutely devastating property damage - including along the highways, where interstate travelers are often killed because of the lack of ability to communicate - but few injuries, and as of this writing (7:30pm CDT on Tuesday night), no reported deaths. With Twitter, however, people in this situation were able to communicate exactly what was going on, and warn everyone else - in real time. Did this play a role in saving lives? This is hard to know for sure, but it seems like it may have, and this is wonderful.
Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with those who lost their homes and sustained injuries from the tornados.