May outages disrupt business, cause prison fracas & strand park riders

Posted by Melissa Tamberg on June 9, 2016

From wild rides to inmate scuffles to data center downtime, power cuts caused a lot of grief across the U.S. throughout the month of May. Eaton’s Blackout Tracker tallied 329 separate outages, affecting nearly 900,000 people for a collective 9+ days. Here is just a sampling:

Data center outage knocks Salesforce offline
Cloud computing giant Salesforce may have suffered a demotion in consumer confidence on May 9, after a power failure disrupted services at the company’s Washington D.C. data center. The blackout left some U.S. customers unable to access services for more than a day, prompting the firm’s CEO to personally apologize to disgruntled clients via Twitter.

The company revealed that it traced the root of the issue to a circuit breaker failure at the data center, which then combined with a firmware bug. Salesforce issued an apology and attempted to assure customers that if a similar event were to occur in future, the disruption would be resolved much more quickly.

Power cut incites prison mêlée
Peace — and power — were restored at a southeast Texas state prison after a power outage sparked a brawl between inmates and correctional officers.  The May 28 incident happened at the Luther Unit prison in Navasota, when flooding induced a blackout and forced the facility to operate on an emergency generator. However, when the generator malfunctioned and correctional officers ordered inmates back to their cells, some refused to comply. It is estimated that as many as 50 prisoners in the 1,300-inmate facility were involved, with three sent to a hospital — one for stitches and two for unrelated medical issues. Luckily, there were no escapees.

Blackout takes park-goers along for the ride
It was with great fanfare — followed by an electrical glitch — that a new Ferris wheel opened at Chicago’s Navy Pier May 27. After the Centennial Wheel was unveiled to the public at 11:30 a.m. — attracting as many as 10,000 riders throughout the rainy day — some 100 passengers got a little more than they bargained for when a blackout left them stranded on the ride in mid-air. The 8 p.m. power outage lasted about 30 minutes, though it likely felt much longer for those stuck airborne. After electricity returned, riders disembarked safely.

Make no mistake, humans still do
Despite an ever-increasing technology-driven world, there’s still no denying the human aspect.  Indeed, a massive power outage that left thousands of Seattle City Light customers in the dark May 25 was ultimately attributed to “human error.” The hour-long blackout affected more than 12,000 customers, including Pike Place Market, Seattle's tallest building Columbia Tower, and Seattle Public Library.

“We have determined that an oversight during testing of newly installed equipment was responsible for the outage,” Larry Weis, City Light CEO and general manager, said at a briefing eight days after the outage.

Tags:  Power LossIT

Posted in: Thought Leadership


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