Last Updated January 21, 2018
It all started in September 2012 on Facebook and Twitter with a page called ‘Smith County Weather.’
Smith County Weather was created after seeing how well my friends and family had responded to weather posts I had made on my personal Facebook and Twitter accounts. Rather than continue posting on my own accounts, I wanted to create a separate place for those updates to live that was accessible not only to my friends and family, but my entire community.
When I launched Smith County Weather, I had no idea how incredible the response to it would be, nor did I have a plan for how that growth should be treated moving forward. It was really just an experiment, but it was one that would turn into something so much more and pave the way for bigger and better things down the road.
Fast forward nearly five years, and Smith County Weather had amassed more than 4,500 followers on Facebook and 1,200 followers on Twitter. The combined reach between platforms meant that I was quite likely reaching nearly a quarter of the county’s population directly!
That growth was spurred by an intense dedication to serving those in my community with real-time severe and winter weather updates anytime such conditions dictated. I prided myself in never missing a beat — always being there when the weather was bad so folks would have a reliable place to turn to for updates.
Additionally, I had established strong ties with the National Weather Service office in Nashville and became a #tSpotter coordinator, soliciting severe storm reports from my followers (storm damage, snow accumulations, etc.) and relaying that information through NWS Chat so it can be officially recorded by NWS Nashville. Smith County Weather joined several other pages that had been established for counties throughout Middle Tennessee with the same mission of providing real-time severe and winter weather updates to our communities, all backed by NWS Nashville.
Smith County Weather also became a NOAA Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador, helping to promote severe and winter weather awareness with the public through social media outreach.
Needless to say, Smith County Weather went from being ‘just an experiment’ to a pretty amazing success story in less than five years.
Despite this success, I saw the opportunity to do more.
Smith County is included in a region of Middle Tennessee referred to as the Upper Cumberland.
A few counties (Macon, Overton and Putnam) also had dedicated weather pages on Twitter, but for counties like Cumberland, DeKalb and Jackson, no such page exists.
Seeing that void, I made the decision in February 2017 to transform Smith County Weather from covering just the one county to the majority of the Upper Cumberland. Thus, Upper Cumberland Weather was born.
I worked throughout the spring to create a website that would host a daily weather blog (that would later be discontinued but I may revive at some point down the road), along with occasional featured stories.
On June 30th, I completed Phase I of the transition by changing the Smith County Weather Facebook page over to the Upper Cumberland Weather brand. For the time being, I kept Smith County Weather going on Twitter, but on January 1, 2018, I flipped it over Upper Cumberland Weather, as well, completing Phase II.
Of course, the goal with Upper Cumberland Weather remains the same: to provide real-time updates during severe and winter weather, except those updates now extend to 12 counties: Clay, Cumberland, DeKalb, Fentress, Jackson, Macon, Overton, Pickett, Putnam, Smith, Trousdale and White.
With the recent advent of Facebook and Twitter live streaming, I’m now utilizing those outlets to provide severe weather updates in a much more efficient manner that’s easier to follow along with, especially with changing algorithms on both platforms (particularly Facebook) making it increasingly difficult to provide text-based updates during severe weather to a large audience — a problem that isn’t nearly as troublesome with live streaming.
Additionally, I created a new daily weather live video entitled “Cumberland Weather Today” that (as of January 23, 2018) airs weekday mornings at 8:30 on our Facebook page, with plans to simulcast the stream on Twitter coming sometime this year.
Moving forward in 2018, I have been big plans in the works to make Upper Cumberland Weather even better, including partnering with advertisers to generate revenue that can be used to make what we’re doing even better, such as building a skycam network throughout the region to monitor sky conditions in real-time — something that could prove to be a tremendous asset during severe weather. This is just one idea of many I have in mind, and it’s something I hope to begin working on in the very near future!
As for the guy running Upper Cumberland Weather, my name is Anthony Taylor. I’m 23 (almost 24) and was born and raised in Smith County, Tennessee, where I continue to reside. I’m a 2012 graduate of Smith County High School and am currently in my final semester at Middle Tennessee State University, majoring in broadcast journalism. Upon graduating in May, I plan on obtaining a graduate’s degree in meteorology from probably Mississippi State University (they have an online program, so I won’t have to travel!). Weather has been a huge passion of mine ever since I was in at least first grade, if not before then. I’m an advanced trained weather spotter, and — as mentioned above — I’ve been providing storm updates on social media for nearly six years. It’s been so awesome being able ‘play weatherman’ on Facebook and Twitter all these years with such an incredible outpouring of support from my community, and I look forward to continuing to do this for many years to come!