Nest down: App and website not working leaving thermostats offline as weather brings record low temperatures

Users have to cope without online home heating service as the polar vortex arrives in the US

Andrew Griffin
Tuesday 29 January 2019 21:49
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A High School student from China takes a selfie along Lake Michigan in Chicago, Illinois, USA, 29 January 2019
A High School student from China takes a selfie along Lake Michigan in Chicago, Illinois, USA, 29 January 2019

Nest thermostats have broken on one of the coldest days on record.

Users around the world are unable to adjust their app- and website-controlled heating systems because the online service is down.

The problems come as the US and elsewhere braces for one of the coldest days on record, with Chicago and other areas set to be colder than parts of Antarctica. Officials have warned that the temperatures could be life-threatening and that they might damage people's houses if their heating systems are unable to cope.

The Nest outage appears to be hitting across the world, according to Down Detector. Other parts of the globe are affected by the low temperatures, with the UK also forecast to be hit by snow and other extreme weather.

Nest's range of thermostats, smoke detectors and cameras are intended to make people's houses safer by adding the internet to commonly used technology.

The thermostats themselves can work without connecting to the internet, and still appear to be working. But previous problems have meant that heating systems have turned off automatically, and the thermostats do not appear to be keeping to their usual schedules.

The problems come as a blast of arctic-chilled air from the polar vortex brought dangerous, record-setting cold to a wide swath of the eastern United States on Tuesday, stretching from the Dakotas through Maine, with snow expected as far south as Alabama and Georgia.

Cities in the Midwest opened warming shelters as temperatures plummeted well below zero degrees Fahrenheit (minus 17.8 degrees Celsius). Regional governments closed hundreds of schools and airlines canceled more than 1,000 flights, including many to Atlanta days before the National Football League's Super Bowl.

The Midwest will be the hardest-hit area, with a life-threatening wind chill bringing temperatures down as low as minus 50F (minus 46C) in the Chicago area and northern Illinois by Tuesday evening, the National Weather Service reported.

"This storm poses a serious threat to the well-being of people around the state, and we will use every tool at our disposal to keep our residents safe," said Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker in a statement on Tuesday.

As much as two feet (60 cm) of snow was forecast in Wisconsin, and six inches (15 cm) in Illinois.

"Listen to the people in your area ... We're taking about what could be a very dangerous situation, especially for those traveling," NWS forecaster Jim Hayes warned on Tuesday.

He said frostbite was possible within 10 minutes in the intense cold, which was forecast to linger for days.

The brutal chill was caused by the polar vortex, a mass of freezing air that normally spins around the North Pole, but has made its way south into the United States.

Additional reporting by agencies

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