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Power Outages Strike East Coast 1697

Posted by pudge
from the all-hail-ups dept.
fordp writes "CNN, CNBC and others are reporting that major power outages are happening just after 4:00PM EDT in New York, New Jersey, Detroit, Ottawa and Toronto, Toledo." There are reports of a Con Edison transformer on fire on 14th Street in NYC, and lots of people stuck in trains and elevators. CNN is reporting that it is, according to power officials, most likely not related to terrorism, because you know you were wondering. The Niagra Mohawk power grid is overloaded, which feeds electricity throughout the northeast U.S. and into Canada. Update: 08/14 21:06 GMT by P : The mayor said there was no fire, that it was black smoke brought on by an automatic shutdown because of the power grid failure.
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Power Outages Strike East Coast

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  • by caferace (442) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @03:55PM (#6699286) Homepage
    ..You don't have to worry as much about port 135 being open.
    • by Henry V .009 (518000) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @05:00PM (#6700330) Journal
      Yeah, all I have to worry about is my house getting looted when the sun goes down. Well, not really. The 2nd Amendment was made for times like this.
      • by Snoopy77 (229731) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @06:09PM (#6701059) Homepage
        Yeah, all I have to worry about is my house getting looted when the sun goes down. Well, not really. The 2nd Amendment was made for times like this.

        Don't worry, the airports are closed so the British can't come and invade your home.
    • by purpleflux (412518) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @05:07PM (#6700408)
      Actually with Mars being so close it will give people in big cities a very rare chance to see this site without all the light polution by which they are normally surrounded.
  • by First Person (51018) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @03:56PM (#6699301)

    Some reports have suggested that Boston, MA, US was affected. Downtown is operating normally.

  • Power? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Muttonhead (109583) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @03:56PM (#6699303)
    If I had power I could First Post.
  • by zifty (692892) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @03:56PM (#6699306)
    And in other breaking news, a great chorus of laughter could be heard clear across the country, apparently originating from California.
  • by EDA Wizard (2225) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @03:57PM (#6699312) Homepage
    Mayor Bloomberg was just on the radio and said that the Con Edison transformer on 14th Street in NYC is not on fire. It just release some black smoke when it shutdown due to the grid overload.
  • by spicyjeff (6305) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @03:58PM (#6699325) Homepage
    This article detailing using semiconductors to mitigate large scale grid power surges ran in today's NYTs [nytimes.com].
  • Manhattan (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Latent IT (121513) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @03:58PM (#6699335)
    I'm in Manhattan right now, near Colombus Circle. All power is out across all 5 boros. No traffic lights, hundreds of thousands trapped in the subway... I'm dialed in through Verizon (wow. good network, right?) on a laptop, through a PBX with a battery backup.

    According to the radio, the 14th street power station is burning. Of course, it also is talking about blackouts from Cleveland to Toronto. With no power, my poor tropical fish have less than a few hours to live, and I already hear a crowd in the street screaming, but it's mostly good natured right now.

    I'm sorry, this seems like sabotage. I've got 100 gallons of fresh water, and a sword.

    And I'm posting on slashdot.

    Oh well. I guess I just wanted to say hello. =p
    • by Lord_Dweomer (648696) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @04:01PM (#6699394) Homepage
      "I'm dialed in through Verizon (wow. good network, right?) on a laptop, through a PBX with a battery backup. "

      Do you suffer from anxiety attacks when you do not read/post to Slashdot for more than a day?

    • by Mark Gordon (14545) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @04:02PM (#6699415) Homepage
      You didn't get a UPS for your fish?
      • Re:Manhattan (Score:5, Interesting)

        by frovingslosh (582462) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @04:26PM (#6699884)
        You didn't get a UPS for your fish?

        Why is this rated Funny?? I suggested exactly this to a friend who has a large tank and was expressing concerns about power failures just a few weeks ago. She was mostly concerned about the filter shutting down long enough to kill the bacterial from lack of water flow (I think her estimate of how long this would take was very conserative, but the concern about the issue was real, and it certainly can happen, it's just an issue of how long an outage is required). Contrasted to other expenses involved in a large tank, a UPS is an extremely reasonable investment.

    • Re:Manhattan (Score:4, Informative)

      by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @04:04PM (#6699433) Homepage
      the power station is not burning.

      everything is fine and the power is out as far west as detroit, as south as cleaveland and as far north as toronto.

      A niagra falls power grod overloaded and shut down, causing a power cascade.

      simply a failure that brought down the whole setup.
    • by Horsey Fiddler (695875) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @04:05PM (#6699465)

      I'm in California right now, near San Francisco. All power is on across Silicon Valley. Traffic lights are functioning normally, and the BART can't hold "hundreds of thousands" of people like the NYC subway system apparently can. I'm connected through an ethernet cable to the wall on a laptop, with the power adapter plugged in.

      My tropical fish also live on electricity, but they are thankfully in no danger. Regardless, I'm going to freak out like everyone else.

    • Re:Manhattan (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Latent IT (121513) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @04:16PM (#6699681)
      Follow up: As I'm sure everyone else is posting, it Bloomberg says that the smoke from the 14th street power station is from a shutdown procedure, that I could completely believe.

      Now, the going radio theory is that there is a problem near the Niagra New York/Canada border. The Pentagon is saying that there is no indication of terrorism. That being said, I wish most cellular was working, so I could get in touch with my wife.

      Brilliant performance awards go to:

      NYPD, already directing traffic brilliantly.
      FDNY, ditto.
      Verizon, still got full phone, and internet. Considering New York is right in the center of this blackout, seriously. God damn, good show, Verizon.
      Nextel, I still have full service.
      MTA, every bus is rolling.
      Parks, amazingly, this full power outage has not affected the base functionality of any park, citywide. :D

      Boos: Cingular. No service.

      I've got 77% battery left. I'll post again, when I'm bored. =)
      • Re:Manhattan (Score:5, Informative)

        by Latent IT (121513) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @04:48PM (#6700191)
        Nix that, boo to the MTA. It doesn't seem like any buses rolling.

        Yay to the Big Apple Tours. It looks like they're trying to set up a shuttle.

        Yay to regular new yorkers. Ordinary people are directing traffic as well, and you know what? They're pretty good at it. And even more important - the people in the cars are *listening*...

        Yay to Mayor Bloomberg. That guy has a *presence*... he's going to speak on the radio, and he's going to say and do what needs to be done.

        People are alltogether okay - most are walking towards the bridges - it's one way Manhattan right now, like it was on 9/11 - cars allowed out, but not in. I'm going to leave around 6:30. Before sundown by a long time, but after most of the traffic has bailed.

        Anyway, there's not much more to share, so I'll chill with the updates, I guess. Thanks for the concern for the fish, but I don't have any UPS capable of being moved to the tank, and even if I did, I doubt it could power pumps for long.

        New Yorkers are taking it well. Honestly, we're getting used to this shit. So hey. That's okay. =)
    • by elmegil (12001) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @04:31PM (#6699961) Homepage Journal
      With no power, my poor tropical fish have less than a few hours to live,

      Get a straw and BLOW FOR THEIR LIVES, MAN!

    • by Gavin Scott (15916) * on Thursday August 14, 2003 @05:19PM (#6700563)
      I'm dialed in through Verizon (wow. good network, right?) on a laptop, through a PBX with a battery backup.

      With no power, my poor tropical fish have less than a few hours to live

      Let's see... Decisions, decisions. Fish or Shashdot..., fish or Slashdot... Hmmm.

      Hey! the toilet will still flush without power. Slashdot it is!

  • from drudge website (Score:4, Informative)

    by baxterux (575852) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @03:58PM (#6699340) Homepage
    A huge power blackout hit U.S. cities spreading from New York to Cleveland and Detroit and north into Canada Thursday afternoon. In New York City, the blackout affected subways, elevators and airports, including John F. Kennedy and LaGuardia airports. Thousands of people streamed into the streets of lower Manhattan in 90-degree heat. In Toronto, Ontario, too, workers left their offices after the blackout hit shortly after 4 p.m. EDT. Traffic lights were out throughout downtown Cleveland, creating havoc at the beginning of rush hour. There were reports of outages in New Jersey and Connecticut as well. Every prison in New York state reported a loss of power and had switched to backup generators, said James Flateau, a spokesman for the state Department of Corrections.
  • by ratfynk (456467) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @03:58PM (#6699341) Journal
    Here is a link to the solar flare situation there is an X class happening right now! http://sunspotcycle.com/
  • Air conditioners? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Snodgrass (446409) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @03:59PM (#6699353) Homepage
    Judging by this [weatherunderground.com] chart I'd say a whole lot of people were running their air conditioners today. Maybe that's it?
  • by irn_bru (209849) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @03:59PM (#6699354)
    finally got that extra long extension cable rigged up....
  • Weird day. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by IGnatius T Foobar (4328) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @04:00PM (#6699365) Homepage Journal
    This is kind of weird. I work at a mid size hosting center and ISP [xand.com] and since we normally run on generator power, we didn't know that there was a widespread power outage. Things started popping up on our monitoring system -- and they all seemed completely unrelated. Of course, it turned out that all the things going red were customers with T1 lines and such, that were in buildings losing power. :)
  • by FrostedWheat (172733) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @04:01PM (#6699389)
    You know your a geek when your reading Slashdot during a power cut. :-D
  • CNN is reporting... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by phillymjs (234426) <slashdot.stango@org> on Thursday August 14, 2003 @04:01PM (#6699391) Homepage Journal
    ...that this is due to a single fire at a major ConEd substation.

    So this one isn't terrorism (so they say), but I'm sure terrorists will be delighted to know that they can throw five major cities into utter chaos by taking out one substation and getting an assist from the domino effect.

    ~Philly
  • by doc_traig (453913) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @04:02PM (#6699407) Homepage Journal

    I always wondered what that wall switch was for and today I finally turned it off. My bad. After dinner I'll go turn it back on.
  • Aieee! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Nucleon500 (628631) <tcfelker@example.com> on Thursday August 14, 2003 @04:04PM (#6699435) Homepage
    My uptime! Argh s4a37@#89@(#*

    NO CARRIER

  • outages like this (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Guano_Jim (157555) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @04:04PM (#6699450)
    Should serve as an example to the Department of Energy. The U.S. needs a distributed power generating system ASAP. Lots of small solar and wind generators all over the nation. Every block should have one.

    Right now, "officials" are saying this probably isn't terrorism. But I bet it's giving al-Qaeda some ideas.
    If an accident can make this happen, I'm sure a cleverly-placed explosive can make it happen much more easily.

    And once all those cities are out of power and essentially crippled, the real strikes start.

    And now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go get some tea on for when the FBI guys come knocking on my door. Does Ashcroft take one lump or two?
  • by NaugaHunter (639364) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @04:11PM (#6699571)
    1977 Power Outage [gmu.edu]

    It's still moving. Erie, PA, flickered when it happened and just went out (5:10 PM Eastern). It's on the lake between New York and Ohio, so it's on the cusp of whatever grid we have here in Pittsburgh. I think I'll go turn off my air conditioning.
  • by Raindeer (104129) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @04:11PM (#6699585) Homepage Journal
    I expect Bush to adress Congress tomorrow. He will tell them that the US needs to be able to provide for its own strategic electricity supply. Airco is a national security priority. Therefore Canada will be annexed by the end of the week.

    Canadians that object will be labelled terrorists and put in camps where they will be working on new pipelines, new electricity lines and clearing out forrests. All others canadians will be subjected to pay the USA's debt as a thanks for now becoming part of the world's oldest democracy.

  • by SpryGuy (206254) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @04:11PM (#6699587)
    Didn't anyone notice the time the blackout happened? 4:11pm! That's 4-11! OH MY GOD! THE TERRORISTS WANT INFORMATION!
  • by r00tarded (553054) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @04:12PM (#6699590)
    for a terrorist who goes by the name 'Trinity'.
  • Who did it? (Score:4, Funny)

    by xchino (591175) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @04:12PM (#6699609)
    I feel sorry for the last guy to plug something in when the overload occured. Can you imagine plugging your toaster in and taking down power for the east coast? I'd feel pretty guilty about it, unless I meant to do it, in which case I would feel 1337.
  • Slashdotted already (Score:4, Interesting)

    by joshv (13017) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @04:14PM (#6699637)
    Niagara Mohawk Website [niagaramohawk.com]

    Supposedly the electric company that started it all.
  • by cribcage (205308) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @04:15PM (#6699658) Homepage Journal

    I'm typing from 30 miles southwest of Boston. I've heard reports that Boston is affected; but here in the suburbs, we're not having any problems.

    It's worth noting that, no matter what caused the initial problem: The results we're seeing are exactly what happens when the populace fails to concern itself with potential problems. We Americans, even today, suffer from a serious case of "It'll-never-happen-to-me." Experts have warned for years that our power grids had dangerous "pressure points," where small problems could cause massive failures.

    Unfortunately, when we hear the phrase "potential problem," we hear the first word and never bother to listen to what follows. "If it's not a sure bet, why worry about it?" Well...here's why.

    crib

  • by jhines (82154) <john@jhines.org> on Thursday August 14, 2003 @04:15PM (#6699666) Homepage
    there will be a baby boom next june.

    Have fun folks
  • by MrChris007 (523454) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @04:16PM (#6699690)
    inside this building there is a level where no elevator can go and no stair can reach. This level is filled with doors. These doors lead to many places, hidden places, but one door is special. One door leads to the source...etc... Now that the power is out we have only five minutes to find the door on that floor.
  • by zapp (201236) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @04:31PM (#6699955)
    Anyone else notice the web seems a lot faster without all those eastcoasters takin all the bandwidth? ;)

  • by carlos_benj (140796) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @04:35PM (#6700007) Journal
    The mayor said there was no fire, that it was black smoke brought on by an automatic shutdown because of the power grid failure.

    Actually the smoke was from the Mayor's handlers trying to spin the fire story so as not to cause panic.....

    I think it would have been better for the Mayor's minister of dis-information to have done this on television with a flaming transformer in the background.
  • uh oh... (Score:4, Funny)

    by ketan (3574) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @04:35PM (#6700013) Homepage
    Somebody is so fired.
  • Looting (Score:5, Funny)

    by Spamhead (462189) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @04:41PM (#6700100) Homepage
    Can somebody pick me up a TiVo when the looting begins? I'll pay for shipping.

  • by lazzaro (29860) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @04:46PM (#6700156) Homepage
    See chart [lbl.gov]
  • by LostCluster (625375) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @05:24PM (#6700625)
    Reporter Shepard Smith at JFK airport said over the Fox News network that airport maitainance workers were delayed in fixing the generator because they were initially denied access to it because they could not be cleared to access the generators without the metal detectors being powered.
  • by ktakki (64573) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @05:36PM (#6700752) Homepage Journal
    I know it sounds strange, but I'm sort of sorry that I'm not in New York for this (I moved to Boston 25 years ago). Yes, I know that it's a monstrous pain in the ass for everyone and even has the potential for injury and loss of life (e.g., heart attack from climbing stairs), but both blackouts I've been in ('65 and '77) were interesting experiences.

    I was five years old for the first one and scared out of my wits when the lights went out. It was an early evening in November, around 5:30 PM, and I was sitting on the kitchen floor, watching TV (the Winchell-Mahoney hour). Lights, television, even the streetlamps outside went out. My first thought: "Mommmmmmmmm!!!!!".

    We ended up walking over to my aunt's house a couple of blocks away and eating the cake that my mother had baked that day. That was our dinner. Blackout cake. She never made it again after that, but I remember with all the flickering candles it seemed like someone's birthday.

    My father got stuck on the subway for 36 hours, though. Bummer for him.

    When the '77 blackout hit, I was living with my father on the 15th floor of a building on East 96th St. I'd just gotten home from my summer job and turned on the radio. The DJ was complaining about the turntables running too fast (overcompensating for low voltage?). Looking out my bedroom window, I saw the blackout roll uptown: the Empire State Building went out first, then the rest of Midtown, the Upper East Side, and then us. It was a hot, humid night and you could see the occasional flash of heat lightning.

    I checked on my neighbors, an elderly couple, before heading down to the street, where I bartered a couple of cold beers for a handful of candles. People were bewildered, wondering if the Indian Point nuclear plant had blown, or if the Rooskies were attacking. It took about an hour for the looting to start north of us and for most of the night there was an endless parade of NYPD patrol cars headed uptown, four or five cops in each, all in full riot gear.

    I don't want to downplay the millions of dollars of damage that happened that night, but my neighborhood was pretty peaceful. It was like an instant block party, people sharing food and beer and the occasional joint, oldtimers (I guess that's me now) talking about the '65 Blackout (which, like today, started at the Mohawk grid and covered roughly the same area).

    Fifteen flights up was nothing for me back then; I ran track in high school.

    A couple of years ago my neighborhood in Boston lost power for 36 hours. Nothing big, maybe 25,000 households, but I was bereft. No cable, no Internet, just a battery-operated radio and, of course, candles. Off the grid.

    But it was educational. I never realized how dependent I was on technology and the network, how much of my time is spent in front of the silicon devils (TV and computer). Thirty hours with nothing but books and an acoustic guitar for entertainment. When the power came on, the first thing I did was fire up a web browser. It was like a refreshingly cool shower of meaningless information after having to sit and stew with my thoughts.

    Shit. I think I'll go to the basement and throw the main breaker. Just for old time's sake.

    k.
  • by carcosa30 (235579) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @08:55PM (#6702383)
    Every normal shutdown procedure should come complete with billowing clouds of black oily smoke.

    Nothing to see here, move along.

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