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Friday, 08 June 2018 14:51

National Weather Service data outage: 3 reminders for improving resiliency

Memorial Day Weekend 2018 was a deluge for many parts of the country.

Flash floods ripped through Ellicott City, Maryland. Subtropical storm Alberto triggered states of emergency in Florida, Mississippi and Alabama. Severe thunderstorms and tornadoes tore through the West and Midwest.

Amid all this, the National Weather Service (NWS) experienced an outage from Sunday evening into Monday, leaving meteorologists unable to access the weather data the NWS provides.

The National Weather Service experienced an outage on Memorial Day Weekend, leaving meteorologists unable to access the weather data the NWS provides.

It turns out the NWS switched to a new system for distributing data in recent years, and AccuWeather and other consumers of that data have expressed concerns about how the system would handle spikes in requests for data during major storms. Those fears weren’t unfounded.

It’s not the first time the NWS had an outage, either. There were several in 2014 due to firewall issues and in one case, too many requests from an Android app. In February 2017, two of the NWS’s core routers lost power. The Network Control Facility tried to switch over to a backup site, but failed. With both the primary and the backup unavailable, forecasts, warnings and other data went dark for nearly three hours.