if the news is getting out about the sever failure then it could be experiencing unusually high load. it probably would affect server speed though. google's computing capacity is out of this world.
fwiw ... i just checked mine. in and out from sign in to email on the web interface... couldn't have been more than 10 seconds. and my thunderbird has been working perfectly all morning. i haven't gotten any notifications of server timeouts yet this morning.
do you use thunderbird via IMAP or POP? that could affect the load time on your computer.