A Hurricane of Tweets | How Social Media Reported Ophelia in Ireland

Ophelia and social media

16th October 2017 will be a day remembered in Ireland for Ophelia. She made landfall from the south of the country bringing warm temperatures and raging winds with the entire country under a red weather alert.

It was a day to work at home for many as Ex-Hurricane Ophelia battered Ireland and made us stand up and take notice of her strength. Social media provided an invaluable real-time news outlet for all Irish citizens. So I decided to analyse how social media reported Ophelia in Ireland.

Today citizens, parents, employees, business owners, public services, emergency services, travel operators and politicians played their role in making sure we stayed safe as possible during Ireland’s worst storm in 50 years.

In times of crises social media comes into its own. Storm Ophelia was a classic example of this. At the time of writing, three people have lost their lives as a direct result of this deadly storm. 360,000 people left without electricity. The human impact evidenced by these facts.

Despite power cuts and reduced mobile coverage we were able in the most part to stay updated by tuning into the online conversations dominated by Ophelia.

Front line emergency workers really do not get enough credit, nor do their social media managers who keep us updated in real-time.



From my analysis, here’s what I discovered.

How social media reported Ophelia

Using social media analytics platform Talkwalker, I unearthed the data relating to #Ophelia over a 24-hour period in Ireland.

    • Over 278,000 online mentions were published across social networks, online news sites, blog and forums from 7pm on 15th October to 7pm on 16th October
    • Sentiment relating to Ophelia leaned towards negative with 18% of mentions, while 10% of mentions were positive
    • The hashtag had over three quarters of a million engagements at 778,000
    • It had 802 million cumulative impacts
    • The gender breakdown of online conversations was almost equal at 51% male to 49% female
    • Hashtags used alongside Ophelia included #staysafe #Limerick #Douglas #Dublin #Hurricane #Monday and #Breaking

Ophelia on social media


Twitter dominates social conversations about Ophelia

Social media provides citizen journalists with a voice and an opportunity to share real-time updates from the literal eye of the storm. Journalists curate that content and use it for TV, radio, print and online broadcasts.

It will come as little surprise to most that Twitter dominated the Ophelia discussions online. As the main go-to channel for breaking, evolving and all news topics.

Twitter Stats

  • 274,5000 Twitter mentions
  • 706,000 engagements
  • 456 million impacts

The top Tweet using the hashtag #Ophelia came from @NoelySteven who captured him Mum’s attempt to save the bins from Ophelia.

Despite only having 204 followers, the third year student nurse at DCU managed to capture the imagination of an adoring public with his ‘hidden camera’ footage of Ma. His tweet had over 12,000 likes, 3,725 retweets and 217 comments!

Sky’s David Blevin‘s video, republished by The Galway Advertiser Facebook Page, from Salthill, near my home, had almost 60,000 views at time of writing.



Sean Hassett, a computing student at DIT and Press Officer with Galway International Rally tweeted his parents landing at Dublin Airport. His skilled footage drew the attention of Tweeters with 10,000 engagements.

JSB’s final thoughts on Ophelia

Social media plays an important role on days where an emergency is unfolding. Today was one of those days for the people of Ireland. We followed the hashtag, we listened to the emergency services and took the Government agencies advice from the national emergency plan. We saw the lighter side of the storm and shared fun Tweets and Facebook updates with each other to lessen the boredom of being indoors.

Over the coming days we will remember those who lost their lives and share our condolences with their families and friends.

Thank you to all the emergency services, front line staff, our Government, the National Emergency Coordination Centre and the media for keeping us updated and helping us to keep safe.


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