From the Happiest Place on Earth to one of the world’s busiest, power outages wreaked havoc on hundreds of thousands of customers in December — more than 1.42 million, to be exact. Eaton’s Blackout Tracker logged 252 separate outages that impacted businesses and residences across the U.S., with causes ranging from equipment malfunctions to raging wildfires to an errant chicken truck!
It’s a small world (for outages) after all
Even Mickey Mouse isn’t immune to power outages! A transformer issue was blamed for stopping the magic at Disneyland shortly before 11 a.m. on Dec. 27. The outage knocked out power in portions of the Toontown and Fantasyland areas during a busy holiday season at the Anaheim, Calif., amusement park. About a dozen attractions were affected, with guests having to be escorted off of rides. One park-goer revealed that halfway through the “It’s A Small World” boat ride, everything suddenly went dark. After sitting for about 25 minutes, stranded passengers were eventually helped off. Although all power was restored by 4 p.m. and rides had resumed operation, Disneyland said on its Twitter feed that it was "currently only accepting guests for re-entry."
Just plane disastrous
Meanwhile, a fire in an underground electrical facility was believed to be responsible for a Dec. 17 blackout that left the world’s busiest airport in mayhem. The outage, which struck Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International just before the start of the Christmas travel rush, grounded more than 1,400 flights in a ripple effect that was felt for days. International flights were diverted, arriving planes were held on the ground at their point of departure, and all outgoing flights were halted at the airport, which serves an average of 275,000 passengers daily on nearly 2,500 planes.
Passengers were left in the dark when the lights went out at around 1 p.m., with power not restored until around midnight, prompting Georgia Power to report on its Twitter page that “Power has been restored on all concourses. 5,000+ meals are being delivered to passengers. Trains will be operational soon.” The cause of the fire was not immediately known.
Infernos induce outages
Santa Ana winds whipped through parts of San Diego County at 88 mph on Dec. 7, fanning a wildfire that burned 4,100 acres, torched 157 homes, and led to the deaths of dozens of elite Thoroughbred racehorses. Dangerously dry and windy conditions prompted the utility to preemptively cut electricity to 12,000 customers, including Eaton's Blackout Tracker data compiler, who was forced to evacuate due to the proximity of the Lilac Fire. Three days later and about three hours north, some 88,500 Southern California Edison customers in southern Santa Barbara County experienced intermittent outages and power surges due to the Thomas Fire, the third worst fire in the state’s history. SCE said the issues were with the transmission lines.
Why did the chicken cross the road?
There was a whole lot of squawking over a blackout in Felton, Del., on Dec. 12. Sixty customers were left without electricity for 2 hours following a crash involving a tractor-trailer truck carrying a load of chickens. One of 40 vehicle-related outages tallied in December, the collision not only cut electricity to area residents, but snarled traffic after the flock escaped.
Masked bandit lights up the sky
Compared to most months, it was a relatively quiet period for animal-induced power cuts, with only nine logged by Eaton’s Blackout Tracker. But all it took was a lone raccoon in some utility equipment to leave 10,000 Rio Rancho, N.M. residents in the dark on Dec. 13. Many reported seeing, hearing and feeling the resulting transformer explosion, which shook houses and sent flames, sparks and a blinding light into the sky.