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Buh-bye, #Irene!

Hurricane Irene has weakened and was downgraded to a tropical storm on Sunday, August 28, at approximately 9 AM. It is now gone with the wind, but not after packing a punch and leaving behind severe damage up and down the East coast. Some of the statistics are astounding:

  • 22 deaths in 8 states
  • 4.5 million without power
  • Huge backlog of flight cancellations/delays
  • Over $7 billion in damage

From local news to MSNBC, CNN, and FOX, there was no escaping television news coverage of Irene. And no matter which network you tuned into, they were all essentially providing the same coverage. What I really wanted was a social perspective so I turned to Visible Intelligence to see what folks on Twitter were saying about #Irene.

There was the obvious, of course, spike in the conversation when Irene made landfall over Eastern North Carolina’s Outer Banks on the morning of August 27—the graph below showing the highest post volume at around 8 AM.


Taking it a step further, I filtered out all neutral tweets to view just the positive and negative ones. Also obvious here is the higher percentage of negative posts over the positive ones. But what positive comments could people possibly be tweeting about over a category 3 hurricane?


I took some time to review a few of the tweets and found it quite interesting that some of the positive sentiment surrounding #Irene was checking off the list of emergency supplies, including junk food. In one instance, the notion that Irene could shed a couple of pounds was more than welcomed. Here are some of examples:

 After reviewing several different searches on some of the negative tweets, not surprising was the most prominent terms list below indicating frustration of business closures and flight cancellations caused by Irene—the fall out of which many on the East coast will be dealing with over the next several days.







In this particular example below, I was intrigued that “Starbucks” would show up pretty high on the list of most prominent terms in a second search filtering negative sentiment. Also piquing my interest was Twitter handle @chrislicht. What, if any, correlation did the two terms have?

As negative sentiment or humor would have it, Chris Licht’s, VP of News Programming at CBS, tweet about the seriousness of all Starbucks in NYC closing, garnered lots of attention and re-tweets.















In the final example below, I used Topic Discovery to identify the differentiating sentiment terms and discovered that MTV received negative flack for their show, “Jersey Shore”. It appears folks would prefer the show be cancelled over the many flights in/out of Newark Airport, stating “If MTV won’t cancel it, God will … “









The worst of Irene is over and now television news coverage and the social sphere will turn its focus on the aftermath. I’ll keep an eye on the social sphere and report back on any riveting findings. In the meantime, leave a comment and tell us what interesting things you’ve heard this weekend on the social channels about Irene.

Tags : social media

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