A burst pipe in Maryland has affected marine weather reports up and down the East Coast, reports Data Center Dynamics, and Key West commercial fisherman “Lobster Lee” Starling. There is no estimate for when the problem will be fixed.

“A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data center used to process data from marine buoys has suffered an outage caused by a burst pipe,” Data Center Dynamics reported on March 16.

The pipe burst on March 9 in the building that contains the servers for NOAA’s National Data Buoy Center and OAA’s 90 weather buoys and 60 Coastal Marine Automated Network stations have not been reporting weather data since then, according to Data Center Dynamics.

“NOAA’s National Data Buoy Center was brought offline by the flooding, knocking out a critical early warning system and data point for mariners.

“Locally, the snorkel and dive charters depend heavily on that weather information to make informed decisions about which locations they’ll choose on a given day,” Starling said. “It’s hard to believe a burst pipe in Maryland could have such far-reaching impacts. Just a few degrees’ difference in wind direction can determine whether a vessel will head to the reef or not.”

Local mariners, fishermen and watersports operators depend on weather data collected at Sand Key and other marine weather stations operated by NOAA. NOAA/Contributed

The burst pipe caused extensive flooding at National Weather Service headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, which caused an outage at the data center housed in the building, the National Weather Service said in a statement, first reported by gCaptain. “NOAA’s ocean/marine buoy data are processed on servers located in the affected data center, causing the current buoy data outage. The building is currently being dried out by the building owner and manager, Foulger Pratt. Extensive coordination is taking place between NOAA and Foulger Pratt to develop a comprehensive plan for a full damage assessment, to inspect and restore systems in the building, and to ensure the building is fully repaired and safe for employees to return to their offices.

“This process will take time to complete, and we do not have an estimation at this time for when the marine buoy data will be available. Alternate solutions to restore buoy data flow are being worked.”

Data has yet to be restored via alternative means, and the previously hourly updates to buoy data have not been changed since the incident.

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The weather buoys and stations measure wind speed, direction, and gust; atmospheric pressure; and air temperature; while some also measure sea surface temperature and wave height and period.

This information is used to help spot potential extreme weather events and improve general forecasts. Commercial and recreational mariners also use the data to help plan whether they should venture out to sea.

 

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