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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The winter storm is at least two times zones away Monday evening, but people are already taking to social media to alert their family and friends.

If you believe what some are writing, you might think the sky will be falling with the upcoming winter storm. And some may be buying into the hype.

On Monday, grocery stores were packed — people already preparing for what they think is coming.

Weather has always been one of the most social of topics. Everyone has an opinion and an experience. Add in the era of social media and weather events now take on lives of their own.

“Six to twelve inches of snow is not that big of a deal but once you start compounding that with giving it a name and having hashtags to it and creating all this buzz on social media.  Then people start getting scared and it sort of taps into that fear based reactions,” said Travis Wright, a social media stratigist.

It may be too early to say that’s the case for whats supposed to hit our area on Thursday, but with the help of sites like Facebook and Twitter, posts from businesses, family and friends, many people say they aren’t taking any chances.

“I’m going to stock up so I don’t have to be out and take care of what I need to do so I can stay home safe and warm,” said Tara Farley who said she plans to call in to work on Thursday.

Bryan Chou said he’s not really buying the hype but is still preparing, “Maybe its a good time to stock up because there’s a strong storm coming.”

Wright says it’s a sign of the times.

“Its a now now culture that we live in,” he said.

Also helping feed the frenzy, The Weather Channel announced their plan to start naming winter storms this year, making it that much easier for social media reference, conversations and tracking.

And it seems to be working.

One social media analyzer documented more than four million posts written about the storm dubbed “Nemo”.

“If you look back at our history as a civilization, we’ve been very community-driven and over the past couple 100 years, we’re all sort of isolated in our own little homes and the communities not as prevalent as it used to be so social media really brings back that community and the ability to share those shared experiences,” Wright said.

He also says social media sites are a valuable asset when used correctly.

One tip: make sure what you’re reading and sharing is credible information.