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How the weather affects your internet

Sarah Harris
Sarah Harris

Apr 9, 2019 — 3 min read

Feel like poor weather is slowing down your Wi-Fi? The rain and snow may not be to blame.

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There’s almost nothing more irritating than your technology not functioning when you need it to. On a rainy day when you can’t play outside, you might try to stream movies but sometimes your connection seems just as bogged down by the poor weather as you are. Could the mist be clogging up cyberspace? Is the snow freezing your system’s circuits?

If you’re concerned that poor weather is negatively affecting your internet, read this before calling your repairman. The trouble may be less weather-related than you think.

Why is my internet so slow in poor weather?

There is some evidence that rain can affect light-pole-based public Wi-Fi due to water droplets’ absorption and blockage of radio signals — in other words, rain can limit signal visibility in the same way that it limits visibility for human eyes. However, short-range indoor Wi-Fi signals are likely not affected by this phenomenon.

Instead, a poor internet connection on a bad weather day is probably due to distance from your router or high traffic volume. If the sky looks gloomy or there’s snow on the ground, you may want to go upstairs to your bedroom to read a blog or head down to the den to stream shows and movies. This cocooning tendency may put you farther from your internet router, which can cause slow Wi-Fi. Your neighbors may be mimicking your activities, too, which puts more traffic on networks and can lead to a slow internet connection.

Like precipitation, temperature has little effect on your internet speed. Copper and fiber-optic wires aren’t susceptible to the cold, but extremely low temperatures can cause ground heaves, which may damage or tear underground wires. On the other hand, high temperatures can cause your equipment (e.g. router, modem) to overheat. Since it’s more difficult to cool an overheated device than it is to heat a cold one, an overheated Wi-Fi system may function a bit slower than usual.

Stronger weather conditions, like high winds, heavy snowfalls and other large storms can cause greater physical damage to your internet system. Trees can fall onto power lines, debris can knock over satellite dishes and floodwaters can seep into electrical systems. However, if your internet fails during a large storm, you’ll likely know why right away!

What should I do if the weather affects my internet service?

If you think your internet is working slowly or has shut off, don’t panic! Here are five dos and don’ts to help you get your internet up and running again:

  • Do try resetting your router and/or modem, or unplug them and wait for a moment before plugging them back in.
  • Don’t try to fix it yourself. Let a technician handle the tech.
  • Do move closer to your router. Sometimes, just decreasing the distance between your device and your router can help fix a bad internet connection.
  • Don’t go outside until the weather is calm. If you see any downed power lines, debris in your satellite dish or other technical problems, contact a technician. Be sure to contact your electric company as well to report any outages or issues.
  • Do check other devices. If your computer is connecting but your phone is not, the issue may be related to your device, not your network.

For more information on how to fix slow internet, Wi-Fi equipment or other internet topics, check out all the resources available from Allconnect®.