By Gautham Nagesh - 02/03/11 06:22 PM EST
A surge of visitors looking for information on the upcoming blizzard brought down the website of the National Weather Service on Sunday night, according to a report from Nextgov.
According to the report, Weather.gov began receiving up to 20 million hits per hour on Sunday evening, significantly above its typical traffic of 70 million hits per day. By Monday the overload was severe enough that the Weather Service began experiencing equipment failures.
"The volume was so extreme, so historic, that I think the equipment held out for as long as possible," said spokesman Curtis Carey, prompting criticism from the National Weather Services Employees Organization (NWSEO).
“The National Weather Service is experiencing catastrophic failures concerning Internet Decision Support Services at a time when the mission of protecting lives and property is most needed,” said Dan Sobien, president of the NWSEO.
“All eyes are on this blizzard, but the NWS is facing another emergency as it struggles to get its warnings and forecasts out.”
On Monday night the agency replaced some outdated parts that were scheduled to be updated in March; after some slowness on Tuesday, the site returned to operating near full capacity on Wednesday as traffic began to subside.