The December 2009 snowstorm and #snOMG, a little hashtag that began in Charlotte

#snomg tag from, 1 p.m. on 12/19

#snomg tag usage as shown by at 1 p.m. Dec. 19

Trend map for #snomg usage

#snomg usage at after midnight, Dec. 19.

#snomg usage about 2 p.m. Dec. 18

Usage of #snomg as shown by as of 2 p.m. Dec. 18.

Editor’s note from Jan. 30, 2010: Please see an update of this post that tracks the use of #snOMG to Cincinnati.

As the December 2009 snowstorm traveled up the East Coast, a little hashtag born in Charlotte traveled with it.

In January 2009, Gregor Smith, or @flc on Twitter, came up with #snOMG, which combined “snow” and “OMG” in five characters.

When you have only 140 characters, every character counts.

The tag emerged again during a March storm. Then in December, the tag reappeared as weather reports indicated an approaching snow event. Charlotte meteorologist Brad Panovich, or @wxbrad of WCNC adopted the tag, and The Weather Channel shared it with more than 20,000 followers on Twitter.

So here’s a quick Q&A conducted via email with the tag originator, Gregor Smith of northern Mecklenburg County:

When and how did you come up with the tag #snOMG?

(I came up with it) during the first snow “storm” of the year, which was mid- to late January. I can’t claim sole credit, it was merely a punny hashtag reply to a “snow! Omg!” tweet, so I like to think of myself as one who pushed it into the Charlotte collective. From there it wasn’t long before others took it and ran with it, making it a trending topic, which was decidedly easier back in those heady pre-Oprah days…

You tweeted: ‘YES! AFFIRMATION BABY!’ when The Weather Channel (@twci, with more than 20,000 followers) announced #snOMG as one of the “official” hash tags of the East Coast storm of Dec. 18. Is that how it feels to get wide use of your hash tag?

It was on par with having Jim Cantore (of The Weather Channel) standing at the end of Pineville-Matthews Road (in Charlotte) during the big #snOMG of March this year. As Ben Ullman (@budesigns) said then, we were close to getting #snOMG on national TV.

How much snow did you get in the latest storm? Did you go out and play in it? Did you lose power?
We got a few inches, maybe 2 or 3, and of course I went out to play in it! Being 30-plus is no excuse not to be excited by snow … . No loss of power though.

Do you use hash tags to sort Twitter? Or are they just for fun and humor?
Bit of column A, bit of column B. A lot of times, it’s for shits and giggles, the kind of hashtags some people recently said they hate, but for events it’s good to track tweets that way.

The latest storm actually got pretty intense in Asheville and points north. When an event gets serious but has a humorous hash tag, do you think the tag should be changed or not used?
People are free to use whatever tag they want, be it #snOMG or otherwise. Where I come from (Scotland), we have a pretty self-deprecating sense of humor. If you can’t laugh at serious things, then what can you?

Are you the person with the Twitter name @snOMG? If not, do you know who it is?
No, that’s the botfather. (Link might not be safe for work.)

How long have you been on Twitter?
Since September 8th 2006, seriously! I’m user ID 5,628. They are now pushing user IDs in the 100-million range.

You’ve had some life-changing experiences with Twitter. What’s the best lesson you learned?
Don’t talk about work on Twitter unless that’s part of your job. Some over-zealous employers will “dooce” you for that.

Further links:
#snOMG in March 2009
Dan Conover on hashtags
Standardize basic hashtags for Charlotte.


One response to “The December 2009 snowstorm and #snOMG, a little hashtag that began in Charlotte

  1. Pingback: Digging further into the #snOMG hashtag: Cincinnati wins (for now?) « Global Vue

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