Major weather information sites remained widely available Sunday and Monday as Web users sought the latest information on the path of Hurricane Katrina, which left catastrophic damage in its wake along the U.S. Gulf Coast. The home pages for both the National Hurricane Center and Weather.com performed well throughout Sunday evening and Monday morning as Katrina approached landfall.
Media reports have suggested both sites were unavailable for extended periods. Netcraft's seven monitoring stations found that while response time was slower from some locations (especially for the NHC), there were no outages for either site. The National Hurricane Center said its site received 22 million page views Sunday, with traffic on all NOAA sites approaching 5,200 hits per second at peak demand.
Katrina made landfall early Monday in Louisiana and Mississippi as a category 4 hurricane, with sustained winds exceeding 145 miles per hour. More than 80 deaths have been attributed to the storm, a toll that is likely to increase as first responders reach areas that are currently inaccessible due to severe flooding. Flood waters in New Orleans are rising today after a key levee failed late Monday, leaving some areas of the city under 15 feet of water.
New Orleans Internet companies were showing mixed results Tuesday, but the outlook for coming weeks is uncertain. The web site for Zipa, a New Orleans hosting and colocation provider, remained available. But other providers were knocked offline, including ISP Southern Star. Early Tuesday the staff of the New Orleans Times Picayune newspaper, which had been live-blogging the storm on NOLA.com, was forced to evacuate as flood waters continued to rise.
Most of New Orleans is without electricity, and preliminary estimates from city officials say it could be weeks before power is fully restored in some areas. Internet service providers can run on generator power for several days, but those generators require diesel fuel to operate, and flooding may make fuel deliveries difficult.