April proved to be a month of unusual outages, highlighted by conspiracies, quarrels and chaos. With 307 separate incidents logged by Eaton’s Blackout Tracker over the course of the month, power outages impacted nearly 1.6 million people and spanned a collective 285 hours (almost 12 days!). Here, we examine some of the most interesting.
While the widespread electrical outages in New York and San Francisco (and erroneous reports of a third in Los Angeles) prompted some to speculate about nefarious schemes, the power losses were ultimately attributed to something far less sinister: equipment failures.
San Francisco’s outage, which began just after 9 a.m. local time and affected 88,000 customers, was traced to an overloaded circuit breaker at a substation, which then sparked a fire. The blackout in New York ─ which stranded morning subway commuters around 7:30 a.m. local time, several hours before San Francisco’s ─ was caused by a service line failure.
The third outage, affecting 500 customers in Los Angeles’ Century City area, actually occurred the previous day and was the result of a construction accident where workers struck equipment.
All customers affected by outages in the three cities were back online the same day after repair crews worked for hours to restore electricity. Although two of the three blackouts did occur on the same morning, there was no evidence that there was any connection between them.
Fight ends in knock-out ─ of power
An entire neighborhood in Hileah, Fla., paid the price for a young couple’s quarrel on April 28 when an 18-year-old caused a power outage during a fight with his 17-year-old girlfriend. Investigators reported that when the couple’s argument escalated, the teen allegedly grabbed his girlfriend’s purse, lit it on fire and threw it over the gate where he lives. The burning purse then hit a palm tree, with flames spreading to a nearby electric box and knocking out electric services. The girlfriend gave police a video that she claimed was recorded and sent to her by the boyfriend, who was arrested and booked on one count of second-degree arson. It was unclear if the couple remains together.
A wilder ride than they
Thrill-seekers at Six Flags Fiesta Texas were left stranded on several rides April 15 after a brief power outage occurred at the amusement park. The blackout, attributed to a nearby vehicle accident, impacted attractions including Superman: Krypton Coaster and the Sky Screamer, a giant swing for adults. Passengers were left hanging for up to 25 minutes.