NOAA online traffic at record high

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Web site is receiving a record amount of traffic as users seek information regarding Hurricane Isabel.

Today, www.noaa.gov is averaging approximately 8 million hits per hour — a number that shatters previous record highs for the site, according to Greg Hernandez, NOAA online editor. From noon to 4 p.m. today, the site recorded more than 35 million hits.

The previous record for Web traffic to NOAA was set in July, during Hurricane Claudette. At that time, the website averaged 3.7 million hits per day. The site averages only 1.8 million hits a day on a "non-hurricane" day, Hernandez said.

Web traffic to the site has steadily increased this week. Hernandez reported that on Monday the site received almost 10.8 million hits for the entire day.

Hernandez believes his Web traffic has yet to reach its peak, and anticipates the number of hits per hour will continue rising as the hurricane approaches land.

"This has certainly put noaa.gov in uncharted territory in terms of hits," Hernandez said. "I've never seen anything like this. The hits are still increasing as the storm gets closer and closer."

The increased traffic caused NOAA to buy additional bandwidth capabilities from Akamai Technologies, Inc. for the duration of the storm. The noaa.gov system is operating at a peak of 213 megabits per second, Hernandez said.

Features on noaa.gov include updated satellite images and a tracking map that details Isabel's projected path and time of arrival. This information is updated four times each day, with an additional link to near-real time information from the National Hurricane Center in Florida.

In addition to satellite imagery and information, the NOAA Web site also posts updated warnings and bulletins as needed, and will have statements from local agencies after the hurricane touches land.

"The Web site is a key factor in getting out information to the general public," said NOAA spokesperson David Miller.

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