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Storage world gets close-up look at a disaster

The Storage Networking World (SNW) conference was disrupted Tuesday for a couple of hours when a tornado hit the Dallas-Fort Worth area in Texas. The day started out with cloudy skies, but in the afternoon a siren went off throughout Dallas, which was the first sign that something was amiss.

I was sitting in the outside balcony at the Omni Hotel and Resort in downtown Dallas interviewing an executive from Mezeo Software when news started circulating that a tornado was in the area. It didn’t take long before SNW attendees started heading for the windows to watch the strange swirl of clouds in the distance. Hotel personnel quickly started to order everyone on the balcony to move back into the hotel and away from the windows. But not everyone was willing to miss seeing the potential of a tornado hitting the city. Many people kept going back to the windows, pulling out their phones and taking pictures.

One SNW attendee, a meteorologist who has been chasing storms for 10 years, started arguing with hotel employees because he wanted to watch the cloud movement from a window while also tracking its progress from his iPad.

The exhibit hall was closed and sessions were canceled or delayed for at least an hour while everyone waited for the tornado to pass. A heavy rain storm followed after the dark, swirling clouds lifted, giving attendees plenty to talk about besides storage when the conference resumed.

This wasn’t the first time SNW was held at the site of nasty weather. The 2005 fall SNW was disrupted by a hurricane in Orlando, Fla., that prevented many would-be attendees of making it to the show. Fall SNW returned to Orlando last fall for the first time since the hurricane (Orlando had only been the site for the spring show in recent years). The fall SNW in October 2012 will be in Santa Clara.

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