Hurricane ChatOps at Tampa Devs
Using Slack bots for small-scale public safety
At Tampa Devs, we have a Slack workspace for our members to chat and share ideas. This is generally intended as an online community space, but it’s also proven to be a valuable tool to support the safety of our members in the event of hurricanes or other natural disasters.
As Hurricane Idalia approached Florida’s Gulf coast, I like many of our members was concerned about the incoming storm and was watching the forecasts closely. To help everyone stay safe, I wanted to make it easier to share and consolidate the latest information about the storm in a central location. This gave rise to a channel called #stormwatch, where I hooked up some automation to post storm updates as soon as they became available.
The first bot I added to the channel was one I had built in the past for the same reason: A simple script that posts the latest forecast tracks and charts from the Global Ensemble Forecast System, a weather model run by the National Weather Service. I also added Slack’s RSS bot to watch NOAA’s RSS feeds for new bulletins and information about the storm.
If you’re interested in deploying your own Slack bots to watch weather charts, I’ve open-sourced the code for our GEFS bot on GitHub. You can find it here.