Snowboarding and Lightning!

2010-10-15 16:43:22.000 – Mike Finnegan,  IT Observer

Sliding on the Snow!!!

Ok, time to take a second attempt at writing this comment. You see, I had started earlier writing about how excited I was this morning to find several inches of snow on the ground. I, like Brian, had dreams of sideways-flying snowflakes last night. After talking with Roy from WMWV, both of us extremely excited and only made more so by each other, I grabbed my board and boots and headed outside. I threw them in the van this past shift change with hopes of snow. To say I made a few turns might be a bit of an exaggeration, but definitely slid across the snow with the help of winds in the mid-60 mph range, gusting to mid-70’s. I did attempt to ride down the narrow strip on the service road, but the wind coming out of the ENE was too strong and kept me from sliding downhill. I came inside, wrote something akin to the above, and then, there it was, gone.

I saw a flash and felt a slight shaking of the building, then everything shut down, things that usually blink ceased their blinking, some uncommon blinks took their place, and many beeps were heard from all sorts of devices. In the midst of a snow storm the tower received a direct hit from lightning or some kind of static discharge. Fortunately no one was up in the tower deicing so everyone is alive and well. Looking at radar, the ‘strike’ did not show up. Much of the rest of the day has been spent troubleshooting various problems. We initially switched over to grid power, bypassing the UPS, which seemed to not be functioning any longer. This got us back online, but without anything between our entire network and the outside world of electricity. We then noticed two of our fieldpoint units that supply certain data were no longer transmitting data successfully. If both our UPS bank and fieldpoint units were fried, that would be close to $24,000 worth of broken equipment. Fortunately, we noticed a breaker had been thrown on the back of one of the UPS banks and turning this back on, allowed the batteries once again to charge. We gave this some time, powered down our servers, switched back to UPS power, and turned back on our servers successfully. Looking to be sure everything started back up successfully, we found Hugin and Munin, our fieldpoint units, to be transmitting good data once again. Everything Obs related was now back to a fully functional point. The trouble was not limited to the Obs though. The State Park Internet connection was down for some unknown reason (bad line, NIC, router, etc.) and the Weather Service UPS was throwing alarms and beeping unhappily. It turns out an immense surge of electricity changes a lot of things very quickly.

So that is the update from the summit today. My first time sliding on snow this season, Brian live on the Weather Channel with a video of precip-can collection, and a crazy surge of electricity. I guess Zeus is trying to help us out a little with our deicing today!


Mike Finnegan,  IT Observer

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