Power Outage Hits New York and Beyond

A massive power outage unexpectedly darkened New York as well as other Northeast cities including Toronto, Ottawa, Detroit and Cleveland.

Jupitermedia offices in Washington DC and Boston reported no power problems.

The blackout, which hit at 4:15 p.m. local time late Thursday, shut down offices, subways, municipalities and airports including JFK, Newark Airport and LaGuardia. The power failure meant no lights, no air conditioning and no elevators to millions of people in the U.S. and Canada. An hour later, New York Governor George Pataki declared a state of emergency asking that residents stay home and limit their travel to their neighborhoods.

By, 6:00 p.m. officials said power was slowly being restoring to homes and businesses but some 20 power plants and nuclear facilities remained offline. Early estimates suggest the power grid could return to full capacity in about 12 hours.

While Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) spokesman Bryan Lee said the exact cause of the outage is under investigation, media reports say a lightning strike at the Niagara-Mohawk power plant started the domino effect on the North Eastern Power Grid. Witnesses also reported seeing a smoke at a Con Edison power plant in Manhattan. Mayor Michael Bloomberg attributed the smoke to a standard exhaust release procedure by the power plant.

Initial reports from the White House and Department of Homeland Security indicated no evidence of foul play by terrorist organizations.

Keynote Systems said it monitored the situation. As of 4:50 p.m. Eastern, the online monitoring firm reported the Internet was performing normally and major Web sites in the U.S. are also performing normally, although a few of the news Web sites are showing slightly-longer download times.

“This is probably because these systems have power backup facilities and redundancies designed to cope with limited-duration power outages,” Keynote spokesperson Dan Berkowitz told internetnews.com.

Officials with the major financial organizations like the NYSE and Nasdaq said they would resume trading in the morning even if it meant they would be working on back up generators.

New York news organizations said locals were in good spirits overall taking the blackout in stride. Some residents compared the event to similar massive power outages in 1965 and 1977.

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