How the weather affects your internet

Lisa Iscrupe

Dec 28, 2020 — 2 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? Does weather affect internet speeds?

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

Why is my internet so slow in poor weather?

Anecdotally, it may seem like bad weather and slow internet are a cause and effect pair. “Evidence from communities with light-pole-based public Wi-Fi suggest that rainy days had an impact on signal strength. While rainfall can create interference — in much the same way that it limits visibility for human eyes — attenuation due to distance from the router is a much likelier culprit for low signal strength,” according to Techwalla.

In other words, slow internet and bad weather is a case of correlation, not causation. Here’s what’s really happening during those snowstorms and thunder-ridden nights that are causing your internet slowdowns. 

High internet traffic to blame for slow internet 

Instead of the weather itself, a poor internet connection on a bad weather day is probably due to high-traffic volume. When more people are stuck at home, they are more likely to be online, entertaining themselves by surfing, streaming and gaming. 


Temperature has little effect on 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. “Physical damage to Wi-Fi conduits and an overflow of users are offshoot causes of weather-related Wi-Fi problems,” according to Bustle.

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.

Learn more: How an overheated computer can cause slow internet 

Large storms can cause physical damage to internet infrastructure

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!

Expert tip: Distance from your router can be another culprit for slow download speeds.

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.

Where should I put my router?

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:

  • Do try resetting your router and/or modem, or unplug them and wait for a moment before plugging them back in.

  • Do move closer to your router. Sometimes, just decreasing the distance between your device and your router can help fix a bad internet connection.

  • 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.

Don’t:

  • Don’t try to fix it yourself. Let a technician handle the tech.

  • 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.

Lisa Iscrupe

Written by:

Lisa Iscrupe

Writer, Broadband & Data Content

Lisa uses years of experience in sales and customer service for internet-TV providers to inform her writing on broadband. Her work has been referenced by CNN and other national sources. In Lisa’s Words: Ever… Read more

Shannon Ullman

Edited by:

Shannon Ullman

Editor, Broadband & Wireless Content

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