U.S. weather service says hit by first-ever data system outage

residents dig out winter snow Residents dig out following a winter snow storm in the Boston suburb of Wakefield, Massachusetts, U.S. February 13, 2017. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. National Weather Service said on Tuesday it suffered its first-ever outage of its data system during Monday’s blizzard in New England, keeping the agency from sending out forecasts and warnings for more than two hours.

The weather service’s Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System Network Control Facility failed Monday afternoon when the primary and backup routers lost power, the NWS said in a statement. The outage lasted two hours and 36 minutes.

“The AWIPS communications system is a very reliable configuration and this is the first time both routers failed simultaneously,” the weather service said.

The outage came as a blizzard was pummeling New England and engineers in Northern California were trying to repair problems at the United States’ tallest dam ahead of more rain.

The failure prevented the NWS from putting out forecasts, warnings, current conditions, satellite and radar imagery and updates to its main public site.

The director of the agency’s Office of Central Processing, David Michaud, called the impact “significant” in an email to weather service employees. The NWS’ Network Control Facility also was unable to connect with a backup system, he said.

During the outage, the weather service sent out forecasts, watches and warnings through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Weather Radio and the social media accounts of local offices.

The routers at the main site were replaced and service restored. The cause of the outage is under investigation.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Paul Simao)


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