NOAA Experiences Another Data Communications Failure

November 10, 2014, 4:46:03 AM EST

Multiple recent outages from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have limited access to or affected the accuracy of crucial weather data to the public and America's Weather Industry.

On Thursday morning, the National Weather Service (NWS) had an outage of their satellite broadcast network, which is one of the primary communication methods between the NWS and its field offices for transferring weather data. The same network also transmits weather information to America's Weather Industry.

In a statement, the NWS said that its primary broadcast uplink site lost commercial power and backup power from around 9:30-10:28 a.m. EST Thursday. The satellite broadcast network came back online when it switched to the backup master ground station in Fairmont, West Virginia.

This was the second network failure for the NWS in less than a month with multiple additional NWS service outages reported this year.

"These issues are a real concern and, if allowed to continue unresolved, will eventually cause some degradation of forecasts and, possibly, warnings for everyone," AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions Vice President and Chief Innovation Executive Mike Smith said.

On Oct. 21, NESDIS, NOAA's satellite and information service, was experiencing network issues and was not receiving a full feed of satellite data for input. The missing data was a critical component for the numerical models used to forecast the weather.

On the evening of Oct. 22, some satellite data began flowing back into the National Center for Environmental Prediction's models but was not fully restored.

Marshall Moss, vice president of Forecasting and Graphics Operations, said the computer models rely on satellite data, as well as surface observations and other inputs to determine the current state of the atmosphere then project it forward into accurate forecasts. Without a full complement of inputs, the model output could be degraded.

AccuWeather services have remained available and reliable during these outages. Unlike most other commercial weather organizations that repackage NWS products, AccuWeather generates its own forecasts and warnings based on comprehensive, publicly available and proprietary weather data that is aggregated and analyzed through complex models and expert weather forecasters - the largest source of weather data and modeling available globally – to provide the most reliable weather information and updates with Superior Accuracy™. AccuWeather also uses unique proprietary high-resolution short-term models that forecast details of blizzards, ice storms and violent thunderstorms that are not affected by an outage of NWS models. AccuWeather uses best-in-class technology that is recognized by leaders around the world to ensure full reliability of weather data storage, accessibility and communications globally. Should there be another NWS computer model outage, it would have no effect on the weather services that AccuWeather provides.   

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