|The lights went out ten years ago today|
[Posted by Adam Forrest on Wednesday, 08/14/13 9:32 am] [Full Blog] [Tweet This]
On August 14, 2003, the lights went out in much of the Northeastern and Midwestern United States and Southeastern Canada. Affecting 55 million people, it remains today the most widespread blackout in United States history (hurricane Sandy in October, 2012, in comparison, only left 8 million customers without power).
The blackout was primarily caused by a software bug in the alarm system at a control room of a power station in Ohio. What could have been a manageable local blackout quickly cascaded into failure of the electric grid across eight U.S. states and Ontario, Canada.
Some areas lost water pressure because pumps lacked power, causing potential contamination of the water supply, putting four million customers of the Detroit water system under a boil-water advisory for four days. Sewage spills into waterways required beach closures in Cleveland and New York.
Gridlock ensued as Amtrak's Northeast Corridor railroad service was stopped north of Philadelphia, and all trains running into and out of New York City were shut down. Airports were closed and gas stations could not operate without power.
Most of the affected areas did not get power back for two days.