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Winter Weather Predictions and How to Prepare Your IT Network

The consensus on winter weather predictions this year seems to be that there is no consensus. The Old Farmer’s Almanac predicts below-average temperatures in the U.S. and western Canada with more snow than average.[1] The Weather Channel also predicts below-average temperatures for the Midwest but with a warming trend around the New Year and a cooling trend in the Northeast at that time.[2] Chris Smallcomb of the National Weather Service gets straight to the point and concludes “Uncertainty Reigns Supreme (Be Ready for Anything).”[3]

The ambiguity of these predictions is based on the neutral position of El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO). The El Niño phenomenon is accompanied by above-average sea surface temperatures in the Pacific, while La Niña denotes below-average temperatures. Meteorologists can predict weather patterns based on these ENSO indicators. However, this year there is a neutral ENSO, making it difficult to predict temperature and snowfall patterns.[4]

NOAA Winter Temperature Prediction December 2013 to February 2014  NOAA Winter Precipitation Prediction December 2013 to February 2014 
Winter weather predictions by NOAA show an equal chance of both above-average and below-average temperatures and precipitation for most of the continent. These predictions are for December 2013 to February 2014.[5]

 

How to Be Prepared

With unpredictable winter conditions ahead, it is especially important to be ready for anything. One area of preparation that businesses should take seriously is the continuity of their IT network.  It’s important to have a mail system and information infrastructure that will continue functioning in the event of power failure or loss of Internet connection. Yet the risks that winter storms bring are only a fraction of the potential causes of downtime. Whether it’s a storm cutting off power, a squirrel chewing through wires, or an unexpected software update, downtime happens.

Though you can’t always prevent server downtime, you CAN prevent it from crippling your business. Backup and failover options allow you to ensure your IT network stays connected no matter what.

Colocation Icon

Colocation

Colocating part or all of your network means your equipment is safe at a high-security facility with backup generators, redundant Internet service providers, and many other measures to maximize reliability and uptime. Use colocation to house all of your IT infrastructure or to maintain a backup. Either way, you have 24/7 access to your equipment and the support of an expert technical team as needed.

Email Continuity Icon

Email Continuity

Email continuity ensures that your business can access, send, and receive messages during an outage of your primary mail server. Without this service, messages sent to your domain during server downtime would be 'undeliverable,' leading to confusion and potentially the loss of important business opportunities. With email continuity, all messages still appear to come from your domain, and your correspondents will never know there was any trouble with your mail server.

Mail Bagging Icon

Mail Bagging

Like email continuity, mail bagging (a.k.a. MX backup) prevents bounced emails and stores all messages sent to your organization’s domain until your mail server becomes available again. The difference between the two is that mail bagging does not allow you to continue sending or receiving messages during server downtime. It is an effective solution to manage short spans of downtime where momentary loss of email capability is not as critical.

Creating a disaster recovery plan for your IT network is essential to maintain the good reputation of your organization, allow communication during disaster times, and prevent the loss of important business opportunities. The arrival of winter weather is a good time to address your company’s disaster mitigation practices. However, these measures are a year-round necessity since downtime is an inevitable possibility no matter the season. Establishing backup and failover measures will give you peace of mind and allow your IT team to address the cause of any downtime while business continues smoothly.

Sources

[1]The 2014 Old Farmer's Almanac (September 2013). "Almanac's Long-Range Weather Forecast for U.S. and Canada". Yankee Publishing, Inc. Retrieved 2013-10-24.

[2]Dolce, Chris (October 21, 2013). "The Weather Channel's Winter Forecast 2013-2014". The Weather Channel. Retrieved 2013-10-24.

[3]Smallcomb, Chris (September 26, 2013). "NWS Reno -- Winter 2013-14 Outlook". National Weather Service. Retrieved 2013-10-24.

[4]Grow, Rick (September 23, 2013). "El Niño, La Niña, La Nada and forecast implications for the upcoming winter"The Washington Post. Retrieved 2013-10-24.

[5]NOAA (October 7, 2013). "Three-Month Outlook". National Weather Service. Retrieved 2013-10-28.