recommended reading

Record demand for information brought down Weather Service website

The National Weather Service experienced nearly six times its normal volume of Web traffic as a major winter storm moved across the country Sunday night, leading to a slowdown and partial shutdown of its website and NWSChat, the tool the agency uses to communicate with emergency managers across the country.

The agency began receiving up to 20 million hits an hour on its site starting Sunday evening, compared to the typical rate of 70 million hits per day, said National Weather Service Deputy Director Laura Furgione. The storm is having a far greater impact than most land-falling hurricanes, she said.

By Monday, the "catastrophic" service overload was "severe to the point where we had equipment failures," said NWS Spokesman Curtis Carey. "The volume was so extreme, so historic, that I think the equipment held out for as long" as possible, he said.

On Monday night, NWS replaced some outdated equipment with parts officials had intended to install in March. The site remained slow Tuesday but was operating near full capacity Wednesday as traffic to the site dropped.

Carey said the service's No. 1 priority is getting the weather forecast and warnings out quickly because lives are in jeopardy. NWS relies on different computer systems to support other users, such as The Weather Channel and AccuWeather. But with NWSChat down, the agency was unable to provide some information to emergency management organizations in some locations, which Carey declined to identify.

He said other services, such as local media and, a private website, continued to operate, so NWS was confident warnings were getting out.

The National Weather Service Employees Organization, however, said in a statement Monday that the failures put people's lives and property at risk. "All eyes are on this blizzard, but the NWS is facing another emergency as it struggles to get its warnings and forecasts out," the union's President Dan Sobien said.

Threatwatch Alert

Social Media Takeover

Qatar News Agency Says Hackers Published Fake Stories

See threatwatch report


Close [ x ] More from Nextgov

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Modernizing IT for Mission Success

    Surveying Federal and Defense Leaders on Priorities and Challenges at the Tactical Edge

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • Effective Ransomware Response

    This whitepaper provides an overview and understanding of ransomware and how to successfully combat it.

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.