From the desk of: Sam C. Chan

ADVISORY: High Winds-Induced IT Emergencies

January 9, 2008

The windy condition started last night and continues. While 55 Mph gust isn't particularly remarkable, the widespread area is. As a meteorology hobbyist, I marvel at this rare phenomenon of extremely strong low pressure system dominating the entire eastern half of the country, with 10 isobar lines!

As expected, I received many calls for stations "mysteriously" rebooting, and a few that "refuse to power on."  The high winds condition creates frequent split-second blackouts and brownouts. The oscillation induces a perpetual power surge and spike.

Typically, your well-protected servers are fine. Workstations with UPS-only (lacking line conditioner + voltage regulator) are vulnerable. In an affected area, the UPS can be depleted within 10 ~ 30 minutes of repeated activation. When subject to a severe surge/spike, the computer's power supply unit trips the circuit breaker, with a built-in delay, for self-preservation. To reset such a system:

  • Disconnect power cord from computer.

  • Wait 1 minute, then reconnect power cord.

  • Power on as normal.

  • If that doesn't work, disconnect again and wait 30 minutes before retrying.

  • If still no signs of life, it most likely had suffered permanent physical damage.

My Internet Status Center indicates numerous major points nation-wide experiencing sporadic outages and significant delays. FELI itself (our primary hosting server) in Ft. Worth, TX and its direct Backbone connectivity are unaffected. Normal latency & zero packet loss reported from the west coast, but noticeable slow down from Rochester, due to delays within our path. Simple traceroute will reveal details. Despite that, POP response fell within the default 60 second threshold. I will continue to monitor the situation.

Locally, cross-ISP traffic between TimeWarner and Frontier remains practically paralyzed. Since TW refused to establish "peering point" with Frontier, all traffic goes thru Backbone with 20+ hops, thus particularly problematic on days like these. This affects all of your "road warriors" and telecommuters w/ RDP and PCA connections; as well as all VPNs.

As of 1:00 pm, I'm all caught-up with call backlog. If I haven't returned your call, it's because I never received your message. Contact again, possibly via different methods.

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