Katrina Overwhelms Weather Web Sites

Several U.S. weather and news Web sites were deluged by heavy traffic as hordes of people went online seeking emergency information and news on Hurricane Katrina, which battered the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Weather.com was largely unavailable from 6 p.m. to 9:15 p.m. EDT on Sunday night (2200 GMT Sunday to 0115 GMT Monday), as the storm was approaching its Louisiana landfall, according to Keynote Systems Inc., which monitors Internet performance.

But a spokesman at Weather.com disputed that contention. He said availability was close to 100 percent, but the time needed to retrieve the site's entire home page spiked to as long as 9 seconds on Monday morning, during the height of the storm, as people came back to the office and started checking the news.

Keynote was not immediately available for comment.

Availability of the National Weather Service Web site

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fell to 29 percent from 11:15 to 11:45 a.m. EDT Monday (1515 to 1545 GMT) from its usual 94 percent to 98 percent, according to Keynote.

News sites CNN.com and USAToday.com showed some degradation of performance on Monday morning, with their home pages loading at 6 seconds and 10 seconds respectively for short periods of time, and availability of ABCNews.com went as low as 52 percent from 2 to 2:30 p.m EDT (1800 to 1830 GMT) on Monday.

These sites usually load at 3 or 4 seconds, said Keynote. Keynote's Business 40 Index Internet Performance Index measures the average download time for the home pages of 40 important U.S.-based business Web Sites.

Copyright 2005 Reuters Limited.

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[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: We also had, hee on Sunday night and Monday morning a higher than usual amount of traffic as people looked for whatver details they could recieve. PAT]
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