Computer Outage Disrupts National Weather Service Offices Nationwide

Network problem resulted in “significant impacts,” internal report says

A massive nationwide computer outage on Wednesday prevented the National Weather Service from distributing important warnings and other basic information to pilots, boaters, and the public, according to an internal document obtained by NBC 5.

The outage did not prevent any warnings from being issued in North Texas because no storms were in the area at the time.

But it was a different story in the central United States, where severe storms were rolling across parts of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois and Indiana, resulting in “widespread media and partner confusion about the warnings and products not being received,” the report said.

Other information including radar data and river levels did not go out.

In some cases, forecasters used Twitter and Facebook accounts to disseminate information about severe storms.

A statement from the National Weather Service said the outage started at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday and lasted four hours.

“The National Weather Service is in the process of executing network and infrastructure upgrades that will reduce the likelihood of a similar outage in the future,” the statement said.

A spokeswoman did not immediately respond to questions about the cause of the outage or how common such problems are.

Some of the most serious issues came in Missouri as a line of thunderstorms rolled through, producing winds of up to 70 miles per hour.

“Most of the warnings issued for the KC metro were not received by outside users which resulted in significant impacts to our office and to other partners,” the report said.

In New York, air traffic controllers noticed they were not getting updates.

“Workarounds include increased phone coordination,” the report said.

In Louisville, pilots did not receive the latest weather information.

“Louisville airport is a major hub for UPS, which delivers Amazon packages, and with Amazon Prime day yesterday this is going to be an unusually high-volume night for them,” the report noted.

The outage affected National Weather Service offices from Pago Pago, American Samoa, to Anchorage, Alaska.

In Anchorage, for example, information about ice were missing from the service’s website.

Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene “called to report they could not see their (radar) data,” the report said.

During the outage, watches and warnings still were available on weather radios and the website, the service said.

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