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Entries in Tropical Storm (5)

Tuesday
Oct302012

Hurricane Sandy Takes Down Gawker, Huffington Post and Other Websites

Photos.com/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- It was inevitable. With power out along the Eastern Seaboard for millions of people, the data centers and servers powering many websites were also hit, knocking popular websites offline for hours.

The biggest casualty? Datagram, the Internet service provider based in New York City that powers news sites like Gawker.com, Huffingtonpost.com and Buzzfeed.com. When its servers went down on Monday night due to flooding, the sites it powered went down with it.

"Unfortunately, within a couple hours of the storm hitting Manhattan's shores, the building's entire basement, which houses the building's fuel tank pumps and sump pumps, was completely filled with water and a few feet into the lobby," Datagram said in a statement on its site. "Due to electrical systems being underwater the building was forced to shut down to avoid fire and permanent damage."

As a result Gawker, owner of sites such as Gawker.com, Gizmodo, and Jezebel, also went down late Monday night. "We're continuing to work on our servers and will be back online as soon as is possible. We miss you already. Stay dry," Gawker tweeted from its account last night.

Gawker switched to Wordpress and Tumblr, different website and blogging platforms, as backups for its site. Gizmodo has been live blogging the aftermath of Sandy on its Sandy 2012 Emergency Site.

"While we're obviously disappointed with Datagram, our priority has been getting back online for our readers with an alternate publishing platform, which we've now done with all sites, thanks to Tumblr," Scott Kidder, Gawker's Executive Director, Operations, told ABC News.

Buzzfeed.com and The Huffington Post were also affected by Datagram's outage. Buzzfeed, a site that has surged in popularity in the last couple of months, was able to recover its full site, though, more quickly than others were.

"Elements of BuzzFeed's site and many story pages are back online, thanks to a Content Delivery Network, Akamai, which hosts the content at servers distributed around the world," Buzzfeed wrote on its blog Monday.

"Two key things helped BuzzFeed recover: After Hurricane Irene last year, BuzzFeed commissioned an offsite datacenter that replicates everything in near real-time. More recently, the site started using Akamai to cache content. That means that when Datagram was offline, the site and its pages should have stayed up — and many did," Buzzfeed's Matt Buchanan said in a post on Buzzfeed's FWD tech site.

Similarly, The Huffington Post had a backup server in Newark to rely on.

"Between Monday night and Tuesday morning, HuffPost was accessible via a temporary site -- status.huffingtonpost.com -- and writers and editors relied on Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter to post stories and information during the storm," the Huffington Post said on its site following the outage.

MarketWatch also went down for a brief period of time, but it is unclear if that was a result of Datagram's outage.

On Tuesday afternoon Datagram had reported that Consolidated Edison and city workers were helping to restore the services and that there were "at least five pumps pumping water from the basement into the street."

While Datagram will eventually come back online, Kidder added that Gawker will be speeding up its plans to have a second data center. "We -- as other publishers -- had counted on Datagram's ability to withstand anticipated natural disasters, which seems to have been misplaced."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct302012

Hurricane Sandy: Waffle House Index Points Relief to Eastern Pennsylvania

Jim Stratford/ Bloomberg News(ALLENTOWN, Pa.) -- Two red, two yellow. What sounds like a child sorting Halloween hard candies this year doubles as something a bit more important to state and federal disaster-management officials: the Waffle House Index for Hurricane Sandy.

Two Waffle Houses near Allentown, Pa., were closed, and two in Maryland were open but serving a limited menu, according to Waffle House spokesperson Kelly Thrasher. All were without electricity; the open ones had gas and water.

Thrasher summarized the Index: when an official phones a Waffle House and the restaurant is open and serving the full menu, the index is Green. When the restaurant is open but serving a limited menu, it’s yellow. When it’s closed, it’s red.

Federal Emergency Management Administration head Craig Fugate devised the index after leading Florida’s response to several hurricanes in the 2000s. Based on the 24-hour restaurant chain’s hardy reputation and presence across the Southeast, it is an informal yet handy way to assess an area’s post-calamity condition.

This allows officials to do quick disaster-relief triage: red areas need help first, and fast.

Thrasher said Hurricane Isaac closed 40 restaurants on the gulf coast for a few days. She attributed the difference between this and Sandy to the chain’s high concentration of restaurants in the gulf area. Their restaurants in Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania are fewer and more spread out.

Unfortunately, there are no Waffle Houses in New Jersey or New York.

The company was “definitely proactive” before Sandy hit, Thrasher said. They tracked the storm all last week and sent an advance team pre-landfall with extra supplies and employees.

The Waffle House Index even has its own Twitter hashtag. “How can the severity of Sandy be measured? The northern most WaffleHouse is in Ohio. #WaffleHouseIndex,” a Twitter user [@rkeni2] tweeted Monday.

Thrasher called the attention “very flattering,” but added: “This is what we do all the time: to be there for our customers and associates on an everyday basis.”

A call to FEMA went unreturned. Perhaps they were busy calling Waffle House.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Aug272012

Gas Inches Up, Oil Down as Production and Refineries Shut Down in the Gulf

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The average price of a gallon of regular gas is $3.78, up three cents from a week ago, according to the Department of Energy.  This price is also up 15 cents from a year ago.
 
Seventy-eight percent of the oil production in the Gulf of Mexico has been halted in preparation for Tropical Storm Isaac. The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement reports about one million barrels per day of oil production has been stopped as 346 offshore oil and gas production platforms have been evacuated.  That's 17 percent of daily U.S. oil production and six percent of consumption.
 
Also according to the Department of Energy, six refineries in the path of the storm reported that they are shut down or were in the process of shutting down.  The shutdowns so far represent 1,316,500 barrels a day worth of petroleum production -- this accounts for about eight percent of total U.S. refinery capacity (as in how much gas and diesel refineries can produce).
 
In a somewhat odd development, oil prices ended the day lower. Oil closed at $95.47, down 68 cents for the day.
 
Some analysts think this drop is in anticipation of a Strategic Petroleum Oil Reserve release if there is a major supply disruption after Isaac.
 
A possible bottleneck in refining capacity could also be causing the drop in oil prices.  Demand for oil goes down if fewer refineries are available to turn oil into gasoline.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Aug272012

Tropical Storm Isaac Could Hike Up Gas Prices

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The giant storm now moving over the Gulf of Mexico could have a direct impact on consumers' wallets -- pushing up the price of gas.

Energy companies are scrambling ahead of Tropical Storm Isaac, evacuating workers from many oil and natural gas platforms, and cutting oil production in the Gulf of Mexico.

As the storm tracks west, it becomes a bigger threat to the energy industry.  The Gulf accounts for more than 20 percent of U.S. oil production and more than 40 percent of refining.  If many plants are closed, it could push up gas prices -- at least for a few weeks.

Global oil prices, meanwhile, are on the rise.  West Texas crude has risen to more than $97 per barrel.  The price was in the low 80s as recently as June.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Aug222011

Tracking Hurricanes on Your Smartphone

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Hurricane Irene, now moving through the Caribbean and perhaps threatening the Southeast by week's end, is only the latest sign of one of the most active hurricane seasons in years. So you want to know where the action is and whether you're in the line of fire. Your smartphone could be your most valuable tool during or after a hurricane, with dozens of apps available to provide crucial information.

Here are a few apps:

Hurricane HD: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch. $3.99Hurricane HD lets you track storms, with moving radar and satellite imagery from the National Hurricane center. It provides tropical bulletins, forecasts, and advisories for the Atlantic and Pacific Basins. You can watch video updates for storms currently underway or forming, and find data on major storms of the past, like Andrew, Hugo and Katrina.

The Weather Channel: iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, Android. FreeThe Weather Channel has fully customizable weather maps, animated radar maps, detailed weather conditions and forecasts, severe weather alerts, and a notification bar with the current temperature and severe weather alert indicator. In addition to the popular location-based local video forecasts, the video section now includes the "Must See Six" videos each day from a national collection. It allows you to get weather forecasts for your location or search by city, ZIP code, street address or landmark. The app also includes interactive maps that are fully customizable and feature the functionality of Google Maps. Customers can decide to display layers such as radar, clouds, UV index, rainfall and more.

Global Alert Network: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Android Blackberry. Free
– The Global Alert Network delivers hands-free national traffic and weather alerts. See iTunes for Apple devices, or go to BlackBerry for a download. The Global Alert Network is a location-aware network platform that automatically broadcasts audible hands-free alerts to mobile devices.

Extras:

National Hurricane Center – Tips on hurricane preparedness, storm surge, marine safety, with archives so you can track the past accuracy of storm forecasts.

The American Red Cross has an app called Shelter View that tells you what shelters are open and how close they are to capacity.

Disasterassistance.gov. After the storm is over, this free app from the government helps you locate and apply for relief.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio