Last winter, when Portland saw more snow than it had seen in 30 years, Portlanders had no idea what to do. Some didn't know how much snow was a lot, and in some cases, they didn't even know what snow was.
In such trying times, the Twitter account of Portland's National Weather Service became the city's most vital government lifeline—not to mention its 24/7 therapist, too.
The NWS Portland Twitter, run by a team of 20 meteorologists, answered every single question from Portlanders during the snowstorm.
When would Portland would be in the mid-50s again?
Would flights be delayed?
"We want to sound like we're human, and want people to know there's people behind the account," says meteorologist Amanda Bowen. "It came about organically, based on the personalities of the people working here. We have people who like to joke around."
Some of the account's affirmations could have come from Rupi Kaur herself: "Bottom line: Don't panic, prepare for the worst, hope for the best. No need to change plans now, but know you may need to," NWS Portland tweeted Feb. 4.
"My daily mantra for probably the next 4 years. Thank you," responded one user.
When a student asked whether he should study for his three exams, they did a little parenting. "You should definitely study for your exams," they wrote, "but you might get an extra day of studying. :)"
And when people used the agency as an emotional punching bag, asking, "Am I allowed to put my fingers in my ears and sing loudly so I can't hear you?" the agency responded with effective de-escalation: "We have started doing that to each other at shift briefings. We are ready for the weather to quiet down, but it won't listen."
"We can't write whatever we want," Bowen says. "There'd probably be lot more sarcasm if we could."