In the five plus years with Dish I have lost signal once and that was due to the mother of all thunderstorms developing over us. I'm not sure how long the signal was gone because I shut off the TV and Dish DVR until the storm had passed, but everyting was normal within 10 minutes or so.
The main reason I left cable was the really slow response time to fix their crappy system. So far, I have been really happy with Dish.
The horror stories that seemingly everyone has heard about satellite reception stem from two sources......
1) Cable companies flat out lie and misrepresent the frequency of satellite outages. It is a scare tactic to make sure you continue to line their pockets by paying for their overpriced service.
2) In the infancy of small dishes, customers were allowed to perform self-installations. The vast majority of them had no clue what they were doing. They would "install" their system on a sunny day and if they got a picture on their TV they assumed they had done a good job of pointing the dish. In reality, the signal strentgh was less than half of what it should have been and then when clouds or rain moved in they lost their signal. Instead of saying to themself, "Wow, I did a terrible install job," they instead assumed that satellite TV was unreliable. Of course they made a point to tell everyone they knew about how bad satellite TV was. Today, E* has wised up. A professional installation is required on residential accounts or else you completely void your warranty.
If we get really really hard rain it will usually go out for a few minutes. Sometimes only a few seconds but go on and off a little but this is only in really heavy rain. If you wipe the dish and lnb off it seems to help a little. I don't think I've ever had it go out in snow and if it does you can just wipe this Dish off. A lot of the times my Dish has gone out so has my grandparents cable and theirs is usually out for a day or so vs the 5 min's mine is out. I really havne't had it go out much at all especially compared to cable. I don't know why they all try to make it out like it's so bad because it is not.
I've been a subscriber for 6 years and I can count on two hands the number of outages I've had. Most have been during noreasters when we have had heavy rain or snow. One time, I had snow build up around my 61.5 dish (since it is on my roof I had to wait for the "solar broom" to clear it 2 days later), but that was it.
Plus there was one major advantage. During that major northeast blackout a few years back, our town was one of the nothernmost cities that didn't lose power. Three towns over where our cable company was located, they lost power. All my neighbors lost TV. I didn't. I had a lot of "new friends" come over to see what was developing. Most amusing was the NYC NBC affiliate trying to do a news broadcast from the newsroom bullpen with candles in the background and portable lights. It looked like the Blair Witch project. It was basically Chuck Scarborough giving verbal updates while wondering out loud if anyone could even see the broadcast.....