Earthquake in Japan Sparks Huge Traffic Spikes Across Web

The devastating earthquake and tsunami that rocked Japan on Friday (March 11) has resulted in massive traffic spikes for the Web’s top news and video sites, including the biggest day Yahoo’s history and the biggest hour ever tracked at Yahoo News.
According to Yahoo officials during the course of Friday, the site’s home page was sending more than 1 million clicks per hour to news coverage of the event. Already the Japan earthquake, which has also impacted Hawaii and numerous areas on the West Coast, has yielded Yahoo’s heaviest traffic day ever, surpassing the news of Michael Jackson’s death on June 25, 2009.
As the day progressed, Yahoo News was recording five times higher than normal traffic. Amazingly, from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. PT, as millions woke up to news that a tsunami was headed to their local beaches, Yahoo News served more pages than in any other hour in its history. By the end of the day, Yahoo News had recorded the biggest one-day audience and delivered the most pageviews in its history.
Traffic to Yahoo’s news photos also soared by 600 percent on Friday, with a stunning 14,000 photos being requested per second.
Similarly, has seen traffic skyrocket throughout the day, which has become a record-setting one for video on the site. As of 5 p.m. EST, the MSNBC Digital Network has served more than 30 million online video streams. The network’s previous zenith was 19 million streams, set on the day of Jackson’s memorial service, July 7, 2009.   
MSNBC has also been leveraging, which aggregates news links from Twitter and other sources, to promote citizen photos and videos. According to MSNBC officials, the site’s team was able to identify this clip, which had 100 or so views earlier today, and then circulate it to the audience. It now has over 1 million on YouTube.
Along those same lines had generated 120 million pageviews globally as of 5 p.m. EST on Friday, the site’s sixth biggest traffic day since 2007.
Naturally, YouTube is also seeing streaming surges, as news organizations and users post video snippets of the tragedy. This clip on the site’s Citizen Tube channel had generated more than 1 million views as of 4:45 EST on Friday.
Similarly, a pair of Associated Press YouTube clips had generated more than 1.2 million views just a few hours after being posted, including this stunning footage of a massive whirlpool in the Pacific as well as footage from Al Jazeera and Russia Today.
Indeed, though numbers are still pouring in as the news from the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan continues to unfold, the Web’s biggest news and video sites are likely to report more traffic spikes—and probably some broken records.