“Fear the Turtle, not the Weather!”
That’s the motto on the Twitter page TerpWeather, created by University of Maryland student Jordan Tessler. While many stayed hunkered down indoors during Hurricane Sandy, Tessler was out in the storm to provide weather updates.
Tessler, a junior geography major at the University of Maryland, created the social media accounts a few years ago. He updates the Twitter account and a companion Facebook page regularly with weather information that impacts the College Park area.
“I had a friend at the University of Alabama who was injured in the tornado there on April 27, 2011. In her honor, I wanted to make sure that it didn’t happen to anyone ever again. Alabama was caught almost completely off-guard by that thing,” he said.
Weather has interested Tessler since first grade. As a kid, he would watch the Weather Channel for fun. The passion petered out for a bit, as he focused on other areas of natural science. But in July of 2010, it came back to him–in a big way.
“I was going to the shopping mall with my brother and this big thunderstorm came through. I got out of my car, and if I had gotten out three seconds later a power pole would have fallen on me. I wanted to know how it happened and why, and where the storm came from.”
Hurricane Sandy was no exception. The Facebook and Twitter pages boasted over 100 updates throughout the storm, ranging from rainfall count to wind speeds. Tessler even ventured out during the worst of the storm to take photographs of flooded areas and provide accurate information to his hundreds of followers.
When asked if he felt endangered going outside to tweet and provide Facebook status updates, Tessler shrugged. “It wasn’t pleasant. It was cold, [and] the rain felt like needles stabbing you, but [I had] a desire to experience history. This storm will likely never happen again…it was created by a really unusual set of events. It was fantastic, and I had to experience it.”
In addition to focusing on campus updates, he also followed local news outlets to give information on the rest of the east coast.
Tessler is a geography major because it’s “more broad-scale than meteorology. I don’t want to predict the weather because that’s hard and there’s a lot of flak for it. I want to prepare for when the weather goes wrong and go into emergency management.”
A Montgomery County resident, he isn’t sure what he’ll do with the Twitter and Facebook pages after he graduates, but he’s certain he wants to work in state emergency management. “There’s always something going on in the state, and I would love to be a part of that.”