How we guffawed a mist of flat white coffee onto our iPads when a survey said that half of Americans think that stormy weather affects cloud computing. But they were right. The infrastructure running cloud computing both suffers and generates its own weather. Facebook kept servers heated so that clouds of water wouldn’t condense on them as they were brought across the humidity gradient from truck to a new cold-air server farm inside the Arctic Circle. Data centres have long been air conditioned, climate-controlled and Halon-protected caves, and recently water cooling is making a come back — rivers irritating server farms, carrying their heat safely away. Fire control is provided by gaseous suppression systems, whose alien atmospheres drive the oxygen from a burning room, or by water mist systems (with meteorological names like AquaFog) which smother fire in a cooling mist.
There is weather, too, beyond the physical infrastructure. Our “likes” and “favourites” are small prayers to the social network gods to keep safe the photos, spreadsheets and status updates we entrust to their cloudy crypts. (Not all precipitation makes it back to the ground: virga is rain that evaporates (or hail that sublimes) before reaching the ground — the observable spinning bar that never results in a file being displayed on our screens. Our status updates may not suffice as offerings: if we didn’t pay for the cloud service, we’re making a wish.) Service uptime websites are the weather charts. A database fails, creating a ripple of low data pressure.