Flooding At National Weather Service Headquarters Damages Data Server

Due to a flood at the National Weather Service headquarters in Silver Spring, information concerning precipitation frequency and intensity has been more difficult to obtain.

A ruptured water pipe at one of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) campus buildings in downtown Silver Spring on March 9 caused so much damage that the server supplying estimates of national precipitation frequency was disrupted, according to Susan Buchanan, director of public affairs for the NWS.

It is not yet known when the data server will be operative again. The server is a point-and-click interface developed to deliver precipitation frequency estimates and associated information. The public, government, academic institutions and commercial interests involved in infrastructure design, development and planning regulations, environmental management and hydrometeorological modeling and analysis use this information.

Silver Spring Metro Complex 2 “experienced significant and widespread flooding” on the first seven floors, Buchanan wrote in an email to MyMCM.

When the flooding occurred, the mission-essential systems were moved to back-up data centers. Therefore, NWS forecasts, watches and warnings continued to go out and were not affected by the Silver Spring data center outage, she said.

While water to the building was quickly shut off, the flooding was extensive and caused damage to exterior and interior walls, carpets, raised floors, NWS mission-essential data systems, personal workstations and equipment. Most employees were not affected as they have been teleworking due to the pandemic.

Until the online service is restored, requests for data need to be emailed to hdsc.questions@noaa.gov, which is responding on a daily basis. Alternate solutions to allow direct customer access to the data are being developed, along with continuing efforts to restore the full PFDS data center service, Buchanan noted.

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