The University of Utah has experienced wide-spread IT outages due to a humidity problem in its data center.
The outages began at 3:45 pm MT on August 22 after outdoor humidity got extremely high. IT teams at the University's data center adjusted the humidity in the server room, but in the process of doing so breached the server room's humidity limit causing an automatic shutdown. The outage was resolved by 7:50 pm that same day.
With the IT systems down, the University hospital was forced to turn away emergency patients via ambulance or helicopter, though has been able to continue inpatient treatment at the facility with all communications done through pen and paper until the issue was resolved.
"This is something that we plan for and that we practice for. It sounds big and it sounds catastrophic, but I just think it's important to remember this is the way that we used to work all the time," University of Utah Health spokeswoman Suzanne Winchester said.
In addition to issues for the hospital, University applications including Canvas, Peoplesoft, Ultimate Kronos Group, VPN, UMail, the University of Utah Home Page, Voice Systems, and more were down. Classes continued running as normal.
Extreme weather-causing outages at hospitals can have significant impacts, both financially and for patients. Last year, a London UK hospital experienced an IT outage during the summer heatwave, leaving doctors unable to access patients' medical records. It was later estimated that the outage cost the UK National Health Service £1.4 million ($1.7m).