The Plymouth State University Weather Center Web site vortex.plymouth.edu received more than 5 million hits during Hurricane Charlie.
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 Meteorology Professor James Koermer, it was the largest number of visitors the site has ever had. He attributes the large volume to the site’s listing as one of the main links on the front page of the Drudge Report, a popular internet news web 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.
The weather center has received a large number of e-mails thanking the center for providing them with important information about the storm, according to Koermer. One of the reasons the site was so popular, he noted, 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.
The PSU site, which started in April 1994, was one of the first academic weather sites on the world wide web.