There Go the Servers: Lightning's New Perils

It is summer storm season in Florida, and when lightning threatens, technicians at cable channel HSN fire up eight massive generators to ensure the home-shopping network won’t lose power.

This time of year, HSN’s generators get switched on two or three times a day. The St. Petersburg company is at the western edge of what meteorologists call Lightning Alley, a 50-mile-wide swath across Florida that gets more lightning than any other place in the U.S. To lose power, or even to have a brief surge or sag in its flow, could create havoc for the high-tech equipment on which the company depends.

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