Hurricane Center Site Felled by Fay
The web site for the National Hurricane Center is having performance problems this morning, apparently due to an increase in Internet traffic as Florida residents monitor the path of the Tropical Storm Fay. Google Trends shows a spike in web searches related to Fay, the first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season to threaten major U.S. population centers.
Uptime tracking from Netcraft shows the NHC site is currently offline from all seven of its monitoring points around the globe. Forecasts from earlier this morning suggested Fay may approach Florida as a Category One hurricane with winds in excess of 75 miles per hour, but was not expected to strengthen into a major hurricane (those above Category Three, with sustained winds of more than 115 miles per hour).
UPDATE: The NHC is back online after an outage that appears to have lasted about two hours.
The Hurricane Center is hosted on the infrastructure of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which has beefed up its infrastructure in recent years. The NHC also has used content delivery networks like Akamai network to help manage its web traffic during peak loads.
Major weather information sites like the NHC and Weather.com present a scalability challenge, as their traffic is seasonal and spikes as hurricanes approach the U.S. mainland. This trend has been pronounced since Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
JohnPosted August 18th, 2008
Yeah, the National Hurricane Center site used to be very reliable in a storm, even with millions looking at their accurate textual data and graphs. But now they have audio, video, podcasts on the current storm, plus tons of bandwidth hogs about all the old storms. So all of that has killed the mission critical part of the site, the good old text and simple graphics. Looks like they didn’t plan for a millionfold increase in bandwidth.