Federal weather system experiences outage amid severe weather nationwide

Warren Faidley/Getty Images

The agency is seeking money to shore up weather forecasting IT systems in fiscal year 2025.

Multiple National Weather Service forecast offices nationwide experienced an overnight network outage early Tuesday that lasted over five hours and impacted some warning services, according to a statement released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

In response, the NWS technology team switched network services from its College Park, Maryland data center to a data center in Boulder, Colorado. NOAA said that normal operations resumed at 6:30 a.m. EDT on April 2, 2024.

The 122 regional NWS offices are charged with keeping the public and local media up-to-date on weather conditions. The outages coincided with an outbreak of severe weather, including tornado watches and warnings across multiple states. 

Meteorologists in the impacted regions were posting about the outage on social media, as reported by the Washington Post. 

NOAA declined to specify what systems were at issue and said "we are working with the vendor to identify the root cause of the outage." An agency spokesperson said on Tuesday afternoon that, "all signs right now point to a hardware failure."

The agency is seeking a more than $22 million budget increase for fiscal year 2025 for several weather forecasting and information dissemination systems.

That increase includes $11 million to move the Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System to the cloud. AWIPS is the system "that weather forecasters at NOAA/NWS use on a daily basis to process, display, and communicate meteorological data to make accurate weather predictions and dispense rapid warnings and advisories," according to the NWS website

"Transforming AWIPS to a cloud framework will give forecasters efficient, secure remote access to the system, therefore allowing them to be more nimble and flexible in providing  [impact-based decision support services] in embedded partner locations," the agency said in its budget justification to Congress.

Editor's note: This story was updated April 2 with additional information.