Between June 1 and Nov. 30, NOAA expects an “above-average” season due to higher Atlantic temperatures and the ongoing La Nina. It forecasts 14 to 21 named storms, including three to six major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5, with winds of 111 mph or higher).
For the people of the Gulf Coast and Atlantic Coast, hurricane season is a time of preparation – and a bit of paranoia. In 2021, the United States weathered its third-most active year with 21 named storms and seven hurricanes, including the devastating Ida. Every year around this time, coastal residents brace themselves while hoping to dodge the wrath of these powerful storms.
Extreme weather events like hurricanes are capable of causing catastrophic water and structural damage to a data center building. Anyone who works within a data center facility must have a plan of action when a storm approaches and for when the storm hits.
It can be a matter of life and death in some situations.
An important step in a hurricane preparation plan is a threat intelligence platform, which identifies when a storm develops. The platform should notify your organization to ensure a storm team is formed and alerted to monitor the storm’s progression.
If a storm progresses and poses a threat, such as a hurricane warning, organizations should activate a response team, which ideally includes members from facility operations, security and human resources. This team should have a hurricane emergency response checklist, which includes actions like critical equipment checks on batteries that power cooling mechanisms, ensuring adequate levels of fuel in the facility’s generators and ensuring vendors are on standby in case their assistance is needed.
When storms hit, data centers are put in a vulnerable position and face the risk of being damaged. If your facility, or facilities, are damaged, this means on-site personnel, who sometimes must shelter in place at the facility, are called upon to observe the damages and pitch in with clean-up measures, where possible.
Customer and employee safety is another incredibly important aspect of hurricane preparedness. The lives of your employees are the most important things to protect – people are such a large part of data centers, and their livelihood is of the utmost importance. It’s critical to have a plan for monitoring the welfare of employees that are near the impacted area, including ways to contact employees in the event of power loss.
In the event your organization’s facility is damaged and needs repairs or inspection, assemble a team to conduct an on-site visit to assess the damages. Remember all employees on-site must have proper protective gear (such as a hard hat, protective eyewear, etc.), tools and a method of communication. This will help prevent injury and loss of contact should a damaged piece of equipment pose danger or electrical wires create a hazard.
Keep customers in the loop
Lastly, be sure to connect with any customers who may have been directly impacted by the storm and see if assistance is needed. A best practice is to stay in constant communication with customers across the country to share updates on potential service interruptions and updates in the recovery process. This way, both the organization and customers remain on the same page and are not figuratively and literally left in the dark post-storm.
In conclusion, it is crucial to remain prepared for what Mother Nature brings during hurricane season. Data center teams must be trained and experienced to ensure their facility’s infrastructure is resilient and employees are safe. And they must have a plan so your organization can ensure connectivity remains no matter the weather.