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Flood sends US National Weather Service buoy data centre offline

Written by Wed 17 Mar 2021

The facility is used by scientists to forecast extreme weather events

A burst pipe has flooded the US National Weather Service HQ, taking down a data centre used by the administration to process marine buoy data.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA for short, relies on the data centre to observe changes in weather, climate, oceans and coast, tapping data produced by a network of 90 buoys and 60 network stations located on piers, lighthouses and beaches.

The facility tracks data points such as wind speed and direction, wave height, and pressure changes. Commercial and recreational mariners depend on it to understand marine conditions. While scientists use the network to spot potentially dangerous storms and improve general forecasts.

The NOAA, which alerted the public to the incident on March 9, has not issued a timeline for bringing the servers back online, but said it was exploring ‘alternative solutions to restore buoy data flow’.

In a later statement emailed to maritime and offshore news website gCaptain, which first broke the news, the NOAA said inspecting and restoring systems and ensuring the building was fully repaired and safe for employees to return would ‘take time to complete’.

“On March 9, a burst pipe caused extensive flooding at NWS headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, which caused an outage at the data center housed in the building,” read the statement.

“NOAA’s ocean/marine buoy data are processed on servers located in the affected data center, causing the current buoy data outage. The building is currently being dried out by the building owner/manager, Foulger Pratt.”

Written by Wed 17 Mar 2021

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