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When thunderous rain cancels your plans for the day and puts you into a foul mood, it is easy to blame any and all inconveniences you may face, on the dark clouds above. But, who do you place the responsibility on when your internet goes bad as inclement weather conditions strike with full force? Is it the bad weather alone at fault or are there other factors at play? Well, both statements hold true to some degree.

While light rainfall or soft snowfall do not depict an impact, severe weather conditions may cause bad internet connectivity due to a variety of reasons. Heatwaves and high winds can also have an impact on the infrastructure which in turn affects the internet connection at your end.

Besides the severity of weather conditions, another key factor that comes into play is the internet service type your ISP delivers. Satellite and Fixed Wireless internet signals are likely to face degradation more so relative to wireline services such as Fiber, Cable, and DSL. And even among wired internet types, some are more susceptible to external interference than others.

As for the Wi-Fi inside your home, it is not directly affected by bad weather. After all, the in-home Wi-Fi signals are not exposed to the harsh weather conditions outdoors. But if your wired or wireless internet service from the ISP is impacted by the weather, you are bound to feel the dip in the performance of your in-home Wi-Fi.

Understanding the relationship between your internet connection and the weather can help you troubleshoot the problem faster as and when you encounter one. So let us explore this together because the story does not end just there!

Why heavy rain & thick snowfall may slow your Wi-Fi

The weather is bad  

As you cuddle in a corner sipping coffee waiting for the heavy rainfall to pass, you may have to entertain yourself the old-fashioned way through books, or the shows and movies downloaded on your mobile devices. Why? Well as we just said, that is because the in-home Wi-Fi signals become too weak when your connection slows down to a near stop as the wireline or wireless delivery gets affected by the weather.

And, if by any chance you happen to be outside and connected to a Wi-Fi hotspot courtesy of your Spectrum Internet subscription you are likely to find it to be a mess too. Here it is not just the service delivery from the wireline network which may be the cause, the weather-impacted wireless signal adds up too.

Given the only obvious variable which has undergone a shift is the weather, it is easy to connect the dots. However, while you may want to blame the weather you must consider it is not as much a case of causation, as correlation.

It is a peak traffic time

Another factor that also plays a role in poor Wi-Fi connectivity is the jump in internet traffic. With people cooped indoors, more turn to the internet to pass time. Binging on shows, holding a movie marathon for the family, and indulging in online gaming are some reasons behind the increased load the network faces at such times. And come to think of it, it is not only people in your household but the neighbors too! Not only will be the bandwidth under stress over your in-home Wi-Fi but at the ISP network-end, making it difficult to sustain connectivity.    

The high traffic load on the network is more likely to hit you if you are on a cable broadband connection. With the allocated bandwidth shared by the neighborhood, speeds are prone to slowdowns during peak traffic times. With that said, if you are a cable internet user, you may be able to mitigate the problem to an extent. Here are a few steps you can take to ensure you get decent service at such times:

  1. Reduce the number of devices connected to the internet
  2. Move your device closer to the modem/router setup
  3. Turn your modem/router off and then on again after a minute to boost efficiency
  4. Humidity is the one “weather factor” that can weaken Wi-Fi signals indoors. If you feel too much vapor in the atmosphere, use a dehumidifier.
  5. As the last resort, you can turn to your internet provider for help. Spectrum Internet service comes with 24/7 tech support. Chances are you will be able to determine where exactly the problem is, and how best you can troubleshoot on your own if at all.

Internet troubles in extreme weather

As we said, light rain and soft snowfall will not really impact internet connectivity. Because broadband infrastructures are designed to withstand routine weather changes, and then some. Extreme weather, on the other hand, is an entirely different matter.

Incoming hurricanes, floods, and blizzards are a threat to life and property, and in times like these, you may be cut off from the internet completely for days! However, there are several ways how this may come about and it is based on that, that you can determine the time it will takes for the service to be restored. Here are some ways how extreme weather can cause connectivity issues with different types of internet services:

Signal interference when you are on wireless internet

Pouring rain, snowstorms, thick fog, and hailstorms are known for their pesky signal interfering properties. The heavier the downpour, the worse the signal strength you get, precipitation of all types plays a role.

Raindrops are denser than snow and hail which means, they create more signal attenuation than the others. Add to that, if the droplets are bigger or coming down faster, the higher the chance you will experience an internet outage.

The deluge interferes with wireless internet types be it the cellular connection, satellite internet, or  Fixed Wireless. And among these, satellite internet is the most affected given the signal has to travel nearly 45,000 miles back and forth as opposed to the cellular signal which has to cover about 5-10 miles before it gets to the next cell tower. Plus the high-frequency band, over which satellite communication takes place, is vulnerable to dispersion by water. For the same reason, Fixed Wireless is likely to face more signal degradation relative to mobile broadband.

So, if you happen to be a HughesNet, Rise Broadband, or AT&T Wireless subscriber, be prepared to encounter disruption in your connection during inclement weather conditions. According to HughesNet, bad weather in the area, where your ground hub is located, can also interfere with your connection, even if the weather is not as bad where you are. In most cases, however, the outage is temporary. 

Pro Tip: If you are a satellite or fixed wireless internet user, make sure to secure the equipment installed outdoors as best as you can. A strong gust of wind can blow it away or a rouge object may just damage it. You would not want to incur a hefty cost, so extra caution is recommended.

Infrastructure damage & failure when you are on wired internet

Catastrophic weather events like hurricanes and floods destroy all in their paths, including utility poles, and the wireline that connects your home to the ISP network. With the infrastructure damaged and facing a failure, you can lose service in the area until restoration work is completed. After all, it can only start once the weather calms down.

Snowstorms hold the potential of freezing cable lines, and at times even causing cracks. The cold metal is more vulnerable to such damage, so copper wires are going to pose a problem if the freezing episode is a prolonged one. Meaning if you are on cable broadband or DSL, you can face a “no Wi-Fi” situation.

Even a hybrid Fiber-Coaxial network connection such as Xfinity Internet may thus face some trouble because its “last mile” journey takes place via Copper-based coaxial cables. But if you are on a Fiber-to-the-home connection from AT&T or via the CenturyLink Internet service you are likely to experience the least impact. Why? Because fiber optic cables do not use electric signals to transfer data and are less at risk of an outage. When it is a pure Fiber connection, data travels via light pulses all the way to your location and can do so with relatively less degradation. So unlike Cable broadband or DSL, you are likely to end up only with a “slow Wi-Fi” situation. With that said, in real harsh weather, even Fiber infrastructures can be impacted enough to give away!

Surviving the lingering aftermath

It is not just during rains and storms that you may have to put up with spotty internet service. If rainwater ends up making its way into the hanging cable coverings or underground cable traps you are in trouble. When water contains ions and impurities, it becomes a very good conductor of electricity, and so it can interfere with the electric signals running through copper lines. Unfortunately, the only solution to this is to wait it out.

Factors outside the ISP network infrastructure

Weather conditions can also bring down your internet connection in a roundabout way. Tornados and hurricanes can ruin power grids and with no electricity to run the telecom infrastructure, you are likely to encounter an outage in the area.

Similarly, if roads get blocked or damaged the authorities may not be able to mobilize technicians for repairs thereby causing a delay in service restoration. Shortage of staff and lack of access to the necessary equipment can also play a role in delaying an end to the outage.

Concluding words

We hope you now have a better idea as to why your internet service misbehaves in bad weather. When a stormy downpour starts and your connection slows down the next time, perhaps you will find yourself less vulnerable to extreme frustration. And, it would not feel as unchartered a territory.  

If by any chance, you feel your current provider network infrastructure falters more often than your friends, call at 1-855-349-9328 and speak to an expert about other options available in your area. It may just be time for you to make the switch!

Frequently Asked Questions

Does rain affect wireless internet signals?

Yes. Since wireless internet of any type, Satellite, Fixed Wireless, or Mobile Broadband, is delivered via radio signals over the air, raindrops cause these signals to attenuate, which in turn will result in poor internet at your end.

What type of internet is the worst affected by weather?

Satellite internet is the worst affected by inclement weather as the signals must travel thousands of miles back and forth relative to the 5-10 miles the cellular signal must travel in between cell towers.   

Does cold weather impact internet connectivity?

Well, if it gets cold and wires have to deal with freezing temperatures for long, they can crack and the service you get may be slow or spotty.

Can I use the internet during thunderstorms?

It is advisable to not connect an electrical device to a wall outlet during a heavy rainstorm, so while you should avoid charging your cell phone, you can sure access the internet on it.

Can fast winds cause internet issues?

Stormy winds can damage the internet infrastructure and if that happens, you may face an outage in your area. 

Can Fiber cables crack in cold weather?

Yes and no. For the most part, Fiber cables are sturdy and can withstand hot and cold weather. However, extremely cold weather can prove to be a challenge even for Fiber cables. In winter 2019 Google Fiber service faced an outage for 2 weeks in Kansas City, following heavy snowfall.