This is a common problem in parts of the world with harsh winters and volatile weather in general. We might have poor internet when there is a gale blowing outside and rain lashing down, but are the two connected at all? Does heavy wind or other weather factors affect the internet signal we get?
Wind does not affect the internet signal, unless heavy storms take out power lines and other infrastructure, or increase general network congestion because lots of people are trapped indoors. Wi-Fi is not affected passing through air alone, but can be affected between buildings by heavy rain.
Any technology that uses RF wave technology, such as Wi-Fi or cellphones, is not technically impacted solely by wind, or air in general, but can be encumbered by other environmental factors like moisture and solid objects.
Most of the time, if your internet signal is poor, is usually isn’t the weather that’s causing it, with some rare exceptions.
Let’s cover the issue in more detail, examining how the weather may on occasion impact how internet traffic gets to your home, and is then transmitted within your home.
Wind Does Not Affect Home Internet Traffic
Let’s briefly explain how most people get internet in their homes nowadays. Obviously we all have Wi-Fi routers in our home transmitting the signal within the house once it’s got to the router. Wind won’t affect this for obvious reasons.
However, as regards getting to your house from the wider internet, the vast majority of internet traffic is now routed through underground (and underwater) fiber optic cables, and not transmitted by satellite as it was several decades ago. It’s almost always sent by cable and fiber rather than over the airwaves now, with only a tiny percentage of traffic sent over satellite now.
Therefore, there isn’t any impact of wind on the transmission of this data, unless the wind takes out the power or other infrastructure that’s transmitting the data.
Most internet traffic is sent over fiber optic cables underground these days and isn’t affected by wind
In any event, Wi-Fi belongs to the more general RF spectrum of electromagnetic waves which in general are not affected passing through the air anyway. Here is a good summary on this from a forum:
“Normal atmospheric air is essentially invisible to WiFi signals. While sound is the transmission of pressure variables, WiFi is a transmission using the electromagnetic spectrum, and as as such passes through air without resistance.”
There’s nothing to worry about in terms of heavy wind affecting the internet signal, as long as your internet is wired through fiber cables and then transmitted within the same home. If the signal is poor, then something else is causing it.
Some users may report poor internet in a storm, but it’s more the rain that’s causing this, and more when using Wi-Fi between buildings and not within them.
The Indirect Effect of Weather on Internet Speeds
There is a sense in which extreme weather including wind and storms can affect internet service. Firstly, infrastructure can be taken out as we mentioned, which can slow down or kill the service temporarily, but extreme weather can trap people indoors, meaning that network traffic is higher, possibly reducing the quality of the service.
Network congestion and traffic management are part of the more general reason why we don’t always get the internet speeds we pay for – ISPs will sometimes throttle speeds during heavy use periods to manage traffic demands.
Having more people indoors due to prolonged bad weather or large parts of a country can accentuate this trend, as did the lockdowns of 2020 when many more people were stuck indoors. You might not get the speeds you are expecting because there’s simply a lot of people online at the moment, but ISPs do get better each year at increasing the bandwidth capabilities of their networks.
Does Wind Affect Mobile Internet?
We’ll cover this issue because many of us do sometimes use the internet over our mobile network instead of connecting to Wi-Fi. Phone data and cell reception is sent over the open airwaves, but is it really impacted by weather?
Mobile data is not affected by wind, because like Wi-Fi it is another form of RF waves which are not affected passing through air alone. Cellphone signals are on the same EMF spectrum as Wi-Fi, with the same characteristics, but just operate on a slightly different wavelength.
There’s nothing to worry about in terms of wind alone affected the signal when you’re using the internet through your mobile network. If there is a disruption to service during bad weather, it’s usually the accompanying heavy rain that will be causing it, not the wind.
Similarly, heavy wind and lightning may take out cell towers and indirectly affect service, but there’s no direct affect on the signal as long as the infrastructure remains intact.
Other Types of Weather & Internet Signals
Obviously many weather factors like wind, rain and lighting don’t exist alone but often coincide, as during heavy storms. Let’s look at how other weather and environmental factors may affect internet and Wi-Fi signals.
Rain – This is an interesting one, since Wi-Fi waves do pass very easily through air, but there can be some obstruction when passing through water. There are reports of some people’s internet signal being poorer when connecting between buildings during heavy rain. In this case, there may be some signal loss due to signal passing through large amounts of water, plus the natural effect of Wi-Fi fading out between buildings because of distance and solid obstacles in they way. The rain has to be really heavy to have this effect though. As regards standard internet transmitted over fiber cables to your home, and then broadcast within your home via a router, rain should not affect it unless severe flooding takes out infrastructure.
Ice/Snow – Electrical equipment is generally designed to work within a specific temperature range, but as regards outside internet infrastructure, ISPs and network companies will plan for this and make sure that any equipment installed can withstand the minimum temperatures of the environment; this will differ between Calgary and Florida for obvious reasons. Can affect the internet more indirectly through power cuts, but cold should not be a factor. Exposing your router to extreme cold may affect performance, but this is quite rare.
Heat – Extremely hot temperature will not affect external signals, but may affect your router equipment, causing it to overheat. Keeping your router in a well aired spot, turning A/C on, or even turning the router off for a bit to cool down are good ways to help with this.
Ways to Improve Your Wi-Fi Signal
There is a risk of mis-diagnozing a problem with the internet here; assuming that because the weather is bad, this must be the cause of a poor internet/Wi-Fi signal. If there is a common, consistent pattern for the internet to be bad only when it is very windy, or some other extreme weather, then there might be something in it, especially when sending signals between buildings over some distance. Heavy rain is likely to be the killer here instead of wind.
However, in most cases, a poor internet signal is usually caused by other factors. It’s a good idea to eliminate some other more common causes of poor internet, before we conclude that the weather is to blame.
Here are some other common causes of poor Wi-Fi/internet, plus quick remedies:
Distance – Wi-Fi naturally weakens and fades out over distance anyway, even without weather factors. Remove as many obstacles as possible between the router and device, move closer to your router, move your router to a more central or elevated position. Also understand that if you’re sending Wi-Fi to outdoor buildings like detached garages and extensions, then you’ll likely suffer signal degradation no matter the weather. See our article on this, plus the networking solutions at the end of this section.
Devices – Reset your router and devices, disable and re-enable your network adapters, update your router plus network drivers on your device, change DNS servers, to refresh connections and ensure optimal performance. See our article on solving disconnecting Wi-Fi for detailed steps on doing these things.
Networking Solutions – There’s also several different types of product you can buy to improve coverage in the home if your current router cannot spread reliable internet through your home because of too many walls/floors:
- Wi-Fi extenders – Capture and boost signal from main router for better coverage over short to medium distances.
- Powerline Adapters – Deliver wired and wireless connections via a pair of plugs that communicate through the existing house wiring. Great way of bypassing Wi-Fi altogether and getting onto wired connections at distance from the router.
- Wi-Fi Mesh – More advanced and extensive boosting kits consisting of several nodes that are places around the house to spread better Wi-Fi over larger areas.
- Click the links to view introductory articles on how each product works. Comparison articles here as well:
Service – Check your ISP isn’t suffering some kind of outages or disruption. Also be aware that internet speeds can slow down when major underwater data cables are taken out by accident, since traffic must be re-routed. See our article on submarine internet cables for more on this.