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[Slashdot] - Weather Service Internet Systems Are Crumbling As Key Platforms Are Taxed and Failing


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An anonymous reader shares an excerpt from a Washington Post article, written by Matthew Cappucci and Jason Samenow: The National Weather Service experienced a major, systemwide Internet failure Tuesday morning, making its forecasts and warnings inaccessible to the public and limiting the data available to its meteorologists. The outage highlights systemic, long-standing issues with its information technology infrastructure, which the agency has struggled to address as demands for its services have only increased. In addition to Tuesday morning's outage, the Weather Service has encountered numerous, repeated problems with its Internet services in recent months, including: a bandwidth shortage that forced it to propose and implement limits to the amount of data its customers can download; the launch of a radar website that functioned inadequately and enraged users; a flood at its data center in Silver Spring, Md., that has stripped access to key ocean buoy observations; and multiple outages to NWS Chat, its program for conveying critical information to broadcasters and emergency managers, relied upon during severe weather events. The Weather Service is working to evaluate and implement solutions to these problems which are, in the meantime, impacting its ability to fulfill its mission of protecting life and property. [...] Problems with the Weather Service's Internet systems have persisted for years, in part because of increasing demand from users, which the agency has struggled to meet. In December, because of an escalating bandwidth shortage, the Weather Service proposed limiting users to 60 connections per minute on a large number of its websites. Constituents complained about the quota and, earlier this month, the Weather Service announced it would instead impose a data limit of 120 requests per minute and only on servers hosting model data, beginning April 20. Meanwhile, on March 9, the Weather Service's headquarters in Silver Spring "experienced a ruptured water pipe, which caused significant and widespread flooding," which affected a data center, the agency said in a statement. "Some NWS data stopped flowing, including data from ocean buoys," the statement said, noting some of the buoys are used "to detect and locate a seismic event that could cause a tsunami." Neil Jacobs, former acting head of the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, which oversees the Weather Service, said many of the agency's Internet infrastructure problems are tied to the fact they run on internal hardware rather than through cloud service providers such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft and Google Cloud. "I've demanded in writing that NWS transition these applications to our Cloud partners. It's part of an internal strategy I've laid out," Jacobs, a Trump administration appointee, told the Capital Weather Gang in an email before he left office. In July, NOAA released its Cloud Strategy, which stated, "the volume and velocity of our data are expected to increase exponentially with the advent of new observing system and data-acquisition capabilities, placing a premium on our capacity and wherewithal to scale the IT infrastructure and services to support this growth. Modernizing our infrastructure requires leveraging cloud services as a solution to meet future demand."

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