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Author Topic: 15 Years Ago Today at 4PM.....  (Read 1011 times)

MisterSG1

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15 Years Ago Today at 4PM.....
« on: August 14, 2018, 11:24:14 AM »

The lights went out in the northeast leaving both NYC and Toronto in the dark. Detroit and Cleveland were knocked out as well, but unlike Toronto and NYC, there isn't a reliance on the usage of mass transit at all.

2003 wasn't a particularly nice year to Toronto, the whole SARS epidemic, but the city recovered and the Rolling Stones headlined a day long charity concert in Downsview Park on July 30. A concert held on a former military base in which over 800,000 showed up, this was unlike the effects of the greedy concert 4 years ago on a former air force base in Rome, NY, but let's not go there.

So while Toronto put the past behind them, on August 14, an unlucky situation caused the power to go out and affected over 55 million people in both Canada and the US.

I was not downtown when this happened, however, I was at (at the time known as) Paramount Canada's Wonderland, and noticed something strange when all the rides suddenly weren't running. Eventually we decided to leave and when we turned on the radio, we had learned what had really occurred. It was unbelievable. The drive back home to Brampton that day was interesting to say the least. Thankfully in the end, I was one of the lucky ones and my power was restored at around midnight that same day. While I knew some who didn't get their power back until over 48 hours later.

I'm sure some of you have more interesting stories regarding the blackout.
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jon daly

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Re: 15 Years Ago Today at 4PM.....
« Reply #1 on: August 14, 2018, 11:31:06 AM »

We had a brownout just south of Hartford, Conn..

What I recall most about that blackout may sound kind of odd. I was participating heavily on a baseball messageboard at that time and traffic really slowed down that day because a lot of the participants were from NYC and there were/are a fair share of Torontonians as well.
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PHLBOS

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Re: 15 Years Ago Today at 4PM.....
« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2018, 11:39:58 AM »

I remember that blackout very well.  The Philadelphia area was thankfully spared of such.  When I heard that the Detroit & Toledo area had it; I called my father (who was residing in Toledo at the time) & asked him about it.  Since it was still daylight; he wasn't even aware of the power outage until he attempted to turn on his TV.
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MisterSG1

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Re: 15 Years Ago Today at 4PM.....
« Reply #3 on: August 14, 2018, 11:45:14 AM »

Something I'd like to add, I remember a host on CFRB, the radio station I was listening to when it happened, say this during the drive home:

"Look on the bright side folks, you don't have to pay for the 407 today"

Now if the 407 tolling systems were actually down that afternoon is something I've always wondered, but it was a great remark anyway.
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AsphaltPlanet

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Re: 15 Years Ago Today at 4PM.....
« Reply #4 on: August 14, 2018, 12:08:10 PM »

I was at work at an automotive parts factory when the power went out.  I remember the ordinarily bustling plant being very eerie when it was shut down dark and quiet.  After a few minutes, all of the staff went down to the darkened lunchroom to wait it out.  After a couple of hours, the staff got to eat all of the ice cream that they sold at the canteen of the factory, and then an hour or so after that we got sent home.  At my house we got power the next morning, though it went out for a few hours again the next day, and I got the next day off from work, as factories were told not to operate because there wasn't enough power in the grid to run all of the machinery.
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rawmustard

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Re: 15 Years Ago Today at 4PM.....
« Reply #5 on: August 14, 2018, 12:24:21 PM »

I remember picking up Little Caesars after my work shift and noticing the traffic light nearest the location went to flash mode while the radio station to which I was listening had cut out. When the radio came back, I believe it mentioned the fact that the entire northeast had lost power as well as Detroit and Lansing (where the station I had on was based). Battle Creek must have just been on the fringe of the power failure, but we probably were able to switch to sources from the west of us rather quickly. After I had gotten home, I watched the live television coverage of all the people walking from New York.
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Max Rockatansky

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Re: 15 Years Ago Today at 4PM.....
« Reply #6 on: August 14, 2018, 12:29:59 PM »

It was interesting to watch from Phoenix.  I have lots of family in Detroit and Cleveland, they mostly just were having house parties. 

jeffandnicole

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Re: 15 Years Ago Today at 4PM.....
« Reply #7 on: August 14, 2018, 12:30:52 PM »

The outage crept into New Jersey if I recall, but I was far south enough that it didn't affect me.

I recall people in NYC being amazed at all the stars out at night; something that they rarely see or appreciate in the city.
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abefroman329

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Re: 15 Years Ago Today at 4PM.....
« Reply #8 on: August 14, 2018, 01:00:50 PM »

The law firm I was working for at the time was headquartered in a high-rise in Manhattan, and I heard that one attorney was taking a deposition on the 50th floor, and after the power went out and they realized it wasn’t coming back on any time soon, he started to walk to the ground floor, got to the 35th floor, realized he’d left his suit jacket with his BlackBerry in the conference room, walked back up to the 50th floor, retrieved his BlackBerry, and walked down to the ground.
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jp the roadgeek

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Re: 15 Years Ago Today at 4PM.....
« Reply #9 on: August 14, 2018, 01:06:51 PM »

The outage was sporadic in CT.  It affected where I was working in West Hartford, CT, but did not affect where I was living about 20 minutes away. 
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Flint1979

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Re: 15 Years Ago Today at 4PM.....
« Reply #10 on: August 14, 2018, 01:49:01 PM »

I do remember that.
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Rothman

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Re: 15 Years Ago Today at 4PM.....
« Reply #11 on: August 14, 2018, 02:00:02 PM »

I was in Superior, WI, but moved to Massachusetts on the 16th, so we missed it by a few days.

Biggest blackout I have ever been in was when the West Coast went kaput in 1996 and I was in San Francisco.  Everyone came out into the streets and had a good time.
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catch22

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Re: 15 Years Ago Today at 4PM.....
« Reply #12 on: August 14, 2018, 02:45:53 PM »

I was working in the HQ building of a large auto parts company in metro Detroit.  I was one of the network engineers.  I and some of my teammates were in the site's data center going over some pending changes set for the following weekend.  About 4:05 the lights flickered but came back steady.  At 4:10 they died, along with the center's A/C system, when the power went out. We spent the next 90 minutes shutting servers and networking equipment down in an orderly manner before the UPS batteries died.  The nearest company location with power was on the west side of the state, so my team leader set off there to help set up an emergency command center.  I left for home around midnight and the drive home was positively surreal in total darkness.

Power at my house came back on around 5:00 pm the next afternoon.  The company got power back around 6:30.  I drove in and spent the next eight hours bringing the network back from the dead.
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ET21

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Re: 15 Years Ago Today at 4PM.....
« Reply #13 on: August 14, 2018, 02:49:06 PM »

I remember watching it on TV as Chicago was never affected. The gridlock was insane to watch  :crazy:
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MisterSG1

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Re: 15 Years Ago Today at 4PM.....
« Reply #14 on: August 14, 2018, 03:11:14 PM »

I remember watching it on TV as Chicago was never affected. The gridlock was insane to watch  :crazy:

I could only imagine the way downtown Toronto and Manhattan were like that afternoon.

Consider what happens when the subways are out, all of a sudden these passengers are led back out onto the streets and must wait for buses to move them. With all traffic lights out, no one is going anywhere, the police can only do so much to control intersections, and there's not enough resources to cover all intersections of course. I recall hearing in Toronto that normal civilians took over some intersections and directed traffic, and at less important intersections, the Toronto Police actually gave some civilians some reflective vests and told them to keep at it.

I don't know the exact number off hand, but I think you can conservatively say that one subway train has a capacity greater than 14 buses.

I also recall that making a cell phone call was next to impossible that afternoon.
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Roadrunner75

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Re: 15 Years Ago Today at 4PM.....
« Reply #15 on: August 14, 2018, 03:34:32 PM »

The outage crept into New Jersey if I recall, but I was far south enough that it didn't affect me.
I remember driving down the Turnpike just after it started and seeing the huge flames from the flare stacks at the Bayway Refinery.
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SectorZ

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Re: 15 Years Ago Today at 4PM.....
« Reply #16 on: August 14, 2018, 04:26:17 PM »

Lucked out in eastern Mass. I was just leaving work in Danvers to drive home to my apt. in Chelmsford when the lights went off just for a few seconds. A lot of us in the state had that result, mere seconds of suffering. I know Springfield area was part of the blackout.
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mgk920

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Re: 15 Years Ago Today at 4PM.....
« Reply #17 on: August 14, 2018, 04:27:34 PM »

IIRC, the unaffected areas just to the south of that blackout zone are served by a relatively recently built network of 765KVAC power mains, while the blackout zone was not.

At that time, I found that to be an interesting infrastructure reliability note.

Mike
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PHLBOS

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Re: 15 Years Ago Today at 4PM.....
« Reply #18 on: August 14, 2018, 04:29:05 PM »

Lucked out in eastern Mass. I was just leaving work in Danvers to drive home to my apt. in Chelmsford when the lights went off just for a few seconds. A lot of us in the state had that result, mere seconds of suffering. I know Springfield area was part of the blackout.
My brother's family in Sturbridge had no real outage issues either.
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GaryV

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Re: 15 Years Ago Today at 4PM.....
« Reply #19 on: August 14, 2018, 07:43:57 PM »

I was leaving work at Chrysler (Auburn Hills) when the power went out.  At first it was, "Hmmm .... interesting"  Then it became apparent that it was much larger than just a local outage.

The Woodward Dream Cruise went on as scheduled.

As I recall, SE Michigan was one of the last areas to have power restored.

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Brandon

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Re: 15 Years Ago Today at 4PM.....
« Reply #20 on: August 15, 2018, 12:02:15 AM »

I remember watching it on TV as Chicago was never affected. The gridlock was insane to watch  :crazy:

It came up the the grid in Chicago/NW Indiana and bounced back.  We got very lucky.
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Re: 15 Years Ago Today at 4PM.....
« Reply #21 on: August 15, 2018, 06:18:05 AM »

A co-worker had been in Rome and was connecting to Halifax in Toronto. They were actually lined up for take-off when the power went out…….only 5 minutes more and they would have been in the air! They eventually returned to the terminal and were deplaned.

She was able to get to a friend’s not far from the airport. Not knowing when power would be restored or when she could even get home on a rescheduled flight…..we along with her friends decided to do a swap:  we left from Halifax and they from Toronto meeting up just east of Quebec City.  An interesting spur-of-the-moment road-trip to say the least!
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rickmastfan67

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Re: 15 Years Ago Today at 4PM.....
« Reply #22 on: August 29, 2018, 01:07:06 PM »

We were lucky in Pittsburgh.  We were not connected to the chain that lead to the blackout and we were spared.

It was kinda fun watching the national news about this showing the craziness in NYC. :popcorn:

LM117

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Re: 15 Years Ago Today at 4PM.....
« Reply #23 on: August 29, 2018, 07:44:34 PM »

2003 was 15 years ago?! :ded:

I had just started high school and was living just outside of Goldsboro, NC at the time, so obviously we weren’t affected. I do remember seeing it on national news, but I didn’t pay much attention to it.
« Last Edit: August 29, 2018, 07:50:57 PM by LM117 »
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