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This hurricane season is bound to bring severe weather across the United States, while the likelihood of a “Sharknado” terrorizing our coasts is slim, power outages will certainly be a prevalent result of unfavorable weather patterns in the 2013 hurricane season.

The SyFy Channel summer hit begs the question, “How is turbulent weather going to impact critical power quality?” Obviously, flying sharks won’t be threating data this summer – unless an underwater data center is in the works. In the case of bad weather, if you don’t have a backup power plan, here are four tips to get you started:
  1. Know your risks: Power outages are often assumed to be rare and unlikely events but severe weather is a major threat to power systems; in fact, all of the top five most significant outages reported in 2012 were caused by hurricanes or severe storms. These storms affected more than 12 million people according to Eaton’s Blackout Tracker. With this interactive site, visitors can see the cause, duration and number of people affected by a blackout and view causes per state or region.
  1. Consider your investments: Eaton’s Blackout Tracker Annual Report cataloged 2,808 U.S. power outages in 2012. Even a small server configuration and local area network (LAN) represents an investment of tens of thousands of dollars. To that, add applications, management systems and critical databases, and it is clear that significant company assets depend on power that is not always dependable.
  1. Remember, power problems are equal-opportunity threats: Computers, servers and networks are just as critical to a small business as a data center is to a large enterprise. In addition to severe weather, equipment failures, lightning, copper thieves, and even wayward snakes can cause power disruptions that have the potential to bring business to a halt. Look beyond generators and surge suppressors and consider an uninterruptible power system (UPS) to keep operations moving smoothly.
  1. Determine the level of power protection needed: Consider what type of UPS, best deployment strategy and how much UPS capacity is required for your business. Then, assess how much battery power you need to shut down systems or switch to backup generators in case of an emergency. With adequate backup runtime, modern software solutions can facilitate the safe movement of data to a backup site to maintain business continuity.  If an outage extends past the limits of backup systems, power management software can orchestrate the selective, sequential shutdown of loads.

Regardless of the weather, stay away from sharks this summer and avoid downtime. To access the Eaton Blackout Tracker or data from the 2012 annual report, visit