"Talking about the weather" has become synonymous with idle chatter. But admit it - everybody loves to talk about the weather. It's amazing, it endlessly affects our lives and anyone can have an informed opinion about it.
That's why The Weather Channel is announcing the official launch of iWitness Weather, an online community on weather.com ideal for sharing observations, video and gorgeous photos of storms, clouds and sunsets - some of which will make it into Weather Channel stories, similar to CNN's iReport.
Right now the feature revolves around photo, video and comments. Users can post, discuss and rate content, which is geo-tagged so The Weather Channel can show homemade video and photos on its local broadcasts and on the website. The Weather Channel says it has plans for a forum where users can further geek out about the weather.
A video taken in Texas by user Lauren Bachman, titled "Hole in the clouds."
IWitness Weather launched last month in beta. It's the latest digital front in The Weather Channel's effort to supplement meteorological science with new media to reach its target market - everyone - in useful and compelling ways. Those include weather.com, The Weather Channel Desktop and The Weather Channel Mobile, which reach a combined 40 million unique users a month, making The Weather Channel the most popular source of online weather according to Nielson/NetRatings.
A photo uploaded by West Virginia-based MrLew, titled "too close for comfort."
Weather.com is the third-most popular mobile site after Yahoo!Mail and Google, according to Nielson.
The Weather Channel first launched its online community in May with KickApps, a content management system with an emphasis on social that counts American Express and the Washington Redskins among its clients. The updated iWitness Weather section of the site collects user-added content in one place and makes it easy for users to sign in with Facebook or create iWitness profiles.
Maybe it's too hot. Or too cold. Or you're not ready for fall to be here yet, or you want to see more footage of the devastation being wreaked by a hurricane that's attacking Florida, or you live in Portland and you want to show your parents how rainy it really is. Almost 200,000 photos and videos have been uploaded to weather.com since May, The Weather Channel says.
We're betting this won't be a tough sell to people who are already obsessed to some degree with the weather. What do you think?