The NOAA’s predictions are still favouring an above-normal summer hurricane season according to the August update released by the organization last week. The first part of the annual season had three named storms but none reached hurricane status. The NOAA makes forecasts about conditions in waterways, oceans and climate systems ahead of the annual severe weather season that occurs every June to November. While not venturing into worse-than-usual territory this year the predictions are a good reminder to be prepared for how different types of bad conditions can affect our technology and data.
From early summer until late fall the East Coast battles an increase in storms and natural disasters annually. As far as storms, 2021 topped out as the “third most active year on record for named storms” and the second consecutive season to exhaust the list of 21 storm names1. The danger from these storm systems includes everything from tornadoes to flash-floods. Storm-related weather isn’t the only condition being experienced this time of year either. As summer goes on, heat-related effects are felt in many areas, especially into the western and southern parts of North America. So far many areas have had heatwave conditions in 2022 pushing extreme heat to the top of the list of weather-related causes of death2. From record heat to increases in the frequency of storms the threat of severe weather on our lives is becoming very commonplace.
The NOAA is relied on by communities to report on atmospheric conditions and relay current information and as severe weather systems are occurring with increasing frequency collecting data is more important than ever. This summer NOAA has launched a number of drone technologies to help monitor and collect data.3 At sea-level saildrones were deployed in the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea to float on the water and operate alongside underwater gliders that dive to measure temperature and other patterns. In the air drone aircraft are also sent into hurricane systems to sample the atmosphere high above the ocean. Combining these new drone monitoring and data collection tools in the water and air increases the accuracy of NOAA forecasts so people can better determine when urgent action is needed to protect lives and property.
Extreme weather in the summer is not only impacting people at an increasing rate but also the technology that surrounds and connects us. Changes to environment put a strain on electronic devices small and large and introduce new threats to data storage within them. Hurricanes and storms bring physical impacts but also a number of associated effects in the form of power surges, fires and overheating, and flooding that can cause breakdowns and destruction of data. Computer systems and digital storage devices suffering downtime as a result of environmental changes can be dire to business operations.
When disaster strikes and access to data is hindered, it should be known that all is not lost: data is resilient. Forecasts and predictions from the NOAA about current and future weather conditions are a good reminder that allows us to be aware and get prepared. Knowing the various protocols and precautions one can take in the event of unsettled weather can be the difference between a serious data loss disaster and a data recovery success.
Here are 3 severe weather condition effects and how you can focus on 3 P’s, preparation, precautions and prevention, to protect from data loss when they hit:
Storms can bring days of torrential downpour and be followed by flooding. In all sizes of systems from tropical storms and tornadoes to heavy thunderstorms, water damage is likely inevitable.
Beforehand, making sure electronic equipment and cables are off the ground at a suitable height is helpful. After a storm if you suspect a device has become water-damaged, do not: power devices on, open them up, attempt to dry them out, or try to clean water off of them. Messing with water-saturated tech risks not only damaging them but electrocution to yourself! A better strategy is to seal the device or media in an airtight container.
Unsettled weather activity that involves high winds often results in gust that sway telecommunications towers and fell trees onto power lines which results in outages. One of the most common causes of data loss as a result of storms that we see comes from the subsequent power outages.
Without a doubt short-circuits and electrical surges from winds or lighting strikes are damaging to PCs, external hard drives, server systems, and networking equipment. Yes, don’t forget the networking equipment like routers, modems and wifi transmitters. Slower internet rates and signals are all symptoms of storm effects since their key devices are also affected by power outages. Surge protectors, and even UPS devices for wired devices are essential. Before a storm hits, portable devices like laptops and phones should be charged up and unplugging electrical cables during a storm is a good idea to avoid potentially deadly current.
The summer sunshine is welcomed by many, but heatwaves? Not so much. And they seem to be occurring more often lately. Extreme heat and humidity can be very bad for digital devices.
Prevent overheating by storing PCs and electronics in a cool, dry location in an air-conditioned room. In warm air the fans inside devices work overtime and while core components might be ok, the power supply units often struggle and can even burn out in extreme conditions. On-board electronics get hot just operating on a normal day and storage media like SSDs are solely built upon electronics that cause heat. Over time and exposure to higher operating temperatures the functionality of both SSDs and hard disk drives will decrease. When it comes to wildfires, high temperatures can cause unrecoverable damage to data storage. Like we said though, data is resilient, and with some protection of storage components from direct fire-damage, some recovery is possible with expert attention.
The best tip one can give above all for effective weather disaster data loss prevention is to back up! This includes transferring data from PCs, laptops and cellphones to lightweight storage like external hard drives, USB flash drives or cloud storage services. Having some or all data copied on an easy-to-move secondary device can do a long way to recovery efforts when needed. We often recommend not just one copy, but a second copy in another location as a reminder that extreme weather disasters often render the original location unusable or inaccessible!
And when bad weather touches down – don’t panic! Focusing on safety first, taking precautions and dealing with damaged digital media promptly before handing over to the experts can go a long way towards a successful recovery and keeping business going later. It’s what we’re here to help with!