US weather warning system faces ‘outage’ as storms take hold

As an outbreak of severe weather swept through the central United States overnight on Tuesday, a key part of the nation’s weather monitoring system went down, potentially affecting forecasters’ ability to warn people of dangerous weather.

Radar data sites for the National Weather Service experienced an “intermittent network outage” for four hours, according to Michael Musher, a meteorologist and spokesman for the National Weather Service. “During this outage,” he said, “some warning services were impacted.”

Preliminary storm reports The National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center suggested hail and wind lashed the center of the country overnight Monday into Tuesday. Tornadoes have been reported Oklahoma.

In Pueblo, Colo., the grid went down around 11:40 p.m. local time, said Makoto Moore, a meteorologist there. The National Weather Service in Boulder, Colo., covered Pueblo’s duties until the network was restored about 3 a.m., Mr. Moore said, adding that he could not remember the last time something like this had happened.

“That was basically it,” he said. “We were lucky that we didn’t have bad weather.”

By 6:30 a.m. ET on Tuesday, service was back to normal, Mr. Musher said. “Our Weather Services IT team mitigated the problem by moving network services from our data center in College Park, Md., to Boulder, Colo.”

“We are currently working with the vendor to identify the root cause of the outage,” he added.

Such an outage is “very, very rare,” said Mark Taylor, a weather technology consultant, but could be dangerous during extreme weather. “During severe outbreaks, things can develop very quickly. “Time is of the essence when it comes to warning, especially for tornadoes,” he added.

This is a developing story.

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