Hurricane Charley "Hits" PSU

January, 2005

The map wall in the PSU meteorology Weather Center in Boyd, featuring 32 flat screen monitors and two plasma displays tracking current weather conditions, satellite pictures and Doppler radar. Photo by Michael Rixon.

The PSU Weather Center Web site received more than 5,000,000 hits during Hurricane Charley in August. As the storm was approaching Florida’s coast and shortly after landfall, the site was receiving more than 50 requests per second. That represents more than 300,000 viewers per hour.

According to Professor of Meteorology James Koermer, it was the largest number of visitors the site has ever had. He attributes the large volume to the site’s prominent listing on the front page of the Drudge Report, a popular Internet news site. The Report’s “stats and snaps” headline brought Web viewers to the PSU Weather Center’s tropical weather page.

The Weather Center pages included advisories, plotted the storm’s track and featured images of satellite photos, radar loops and short cuts to other radar images.

Koermer notes that the Weather Center has received a large number of e-mails thanking the Center for providing them with important information about the storm. One reason the site was so popular, he added, is that people can get on the site efficiently. “There aren’t a bunch of ads or other extremities you need to download,” he added.

The site normally can accommodate 256 simultaneous visitors, but during the storm the Weather Center had to increase the site’s capacity to 512 simultaneous visitors. “The log file (which lists visitors) was scrolling rapidly,” Koermer noted.

Started in April 1994, the PSU site was one of the first academic weather sites on the World Wide Web.

-TR


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