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8/30/2005
02:01 PM
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Sites Laid Low By Katrina Traffic

Demand shut down the Weather Channel site for three hours, and caused slowdowns for other sites including CNN.com, ABCNews.com, and USAToday.com

A slew of sites failed or slowed because of Hurricane Katrina Sunday and Monday, although not because of bad weather.

Heavy traffic shut down The Weather Channel's Weather.com site for more than three hours Sunday night, Web performance monitoring vendor Keynote Systems said. The National Weather Service site also was affected by the crowds searching for hurricane information; its availability fell to 29 percent for a half-hour Monday morning.

Major news sites, including CNN.com, ABCNews.com, and USAToday.com also suffered under the surfer onslaught, while the American Red Cross site was operating slowly mid-day Tuesday as people went in search of information about the disaster or ways to donate to relief efforts.

The heavy traffic was also duplicated on search engines. Lycos, for example, said Tuesday that searches for "Hurricane Katrina," "New Orleans," and "National Hurricane Center" were up 256, 300, and 280 percent, respectively.

Other sites touted their high traffic. On Tuesday, MSNBC.com boasted that it had set a new one-day video record with more than 9 million plays of the Katrina news clips offered on the site.

In other Katrina-related news, T-Mobile announced Tuesday that it was offering free wireless Internet access at its hotpots in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama so that those displaced from homes and businesses could connect to the Web. T-Mobile counts 66 such access points in the three states -- in such retail locations as Starbucks, Borders, and Kinkos -- and said the free deal would run through the end of the day, Friday, September 2, at which time the company would re-evaluate the situation.

A list of T-Mobile hotspot locations can be found on the company's site, or by calling 877-822-7768.

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