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Worst Power Outages in U.S. History

Worst Power Outages in U.S. History



Northeast Blackout of 1965
On the chilly evening of November 9, 1965, a power failure left over 30 million people without electricity for up to 13 hours. The power outage covered over 80,000 square miles affecting seven Northeastern states and the province of Ontario, Canada.

The power failure was a result of a power strain caused by several people using electricity to heat and light their homes all at once. The accident resulted in the formation of new monitoring systems and standards that are still used over 50 years later.
 
New York City, 1977
During a mid-summer thunderstorm, a lightning strike caused a power outage after striking a substation near the Hudson River. The outage impacted over 9 million residents of New York City with several stores being looted. Over 4500 arrests were made over the 26 hour period.
 
Northeastern U.S. and Canada, 2003
On August 15, 2003, a massive blackout began when a high-voltage power line came into contact with overgrown trees. The blackout affected 50 million people across eight northeastern states and southeastern Canada. Lasting up to two days, the outage even disabled all trains, stranding travelers and costing an estimated $6 billion in damages.
 
Southwest Blackout, 2011
Considered to be the largest power failure in California’s history. This blackout occurred after an especially long, hot summer season. Due to the extreme heat, all public schools in San Diego County and most colleges were closed for the day.
 
Many restaurants and grocery stores were forced to discard spoiled food that totaled an estimated $12-18 million. The outage also caused failure of some sewage pumping stations, which resulted in contaminated water in several areas. Since the failure, diesel generators were installed at five pumping stations to prevent a repeat of the sewer failure.

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