Los Angeles blacked out
September 12, 2005 1:53 PM   Subscribe

Blackout hits downtown Los Angeles at 1 pm PDT; the LAPD has been put on mandatory overtime. The "we are fucked" meter ratches up a notch.
posted by Saucy Intruder (85 comments total)
 
Could it be terror? D'ya think?
posted by fixedgear at 1:55 PM on September 12, 2005


power went out in Westwood but came back on a few minutes later. I'm guessing our building has a backup generator (judging by the traffic below, it still appears to be out in the rest of the village).
posted by Davenhill at 1:56 PM on September 12, 2005


Data point. The outage has knocked out DreamHost-hosted sites (including mine, which is how I know, but presumably other, more important ones as well).
posted by mcwetboy at 1:57 PM on September 12, 2005


Uhh...tis the season for brown-outs and blackouts. I'm in Eastern LA county and everything's fine here (as a status check).
posted by muddgirl at 1:57 PM on September 12, 2005


LAPD spokeswoman says no terror; Al Qaeda says terror.

I'm voting for a third party candidate!
posted by Saucy Intruder at 1:58 PM on September 12, 2005


I got one of those really nasty hangnails today. You know the sort, they feel like when you pull on them they tear all the way up your arm to the elbow. I'm pretty sure it wasn't terrorism, either.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 1:58 PM on September 12, 2005


Power went out momentarily at CNN/L.A., Cedar-Sinai, LAX, etc. - and is back on.

Howeverm power remains out in downtown L.A., Hollywood -- and as far as the San Fernando Valley.
posted by ericb at 1:58 PM on September 12, 2005


As long as the looting can be avoided...
posted by slf at 1:58 PM on September 12, 2005


Looting? Just wait 'til the no-bid contracts are handed out to build nuclear power stations.
posted by Rothko at 2:00 PM on September 12, 2005


Blackwater is patrolling the streets (and malls).
posted by fixedgear at 2:03 PM on September 12, 2005


mcwetboy: Thanks for pointing that out! Me too. I was all full of righteous indignation for a while.
posted by xmutex at 2:04 PM on September 12, 2005


I got one of those really nasty hangnails today. You know the sort, they feel like when you pull on them they tear all the way up your arm to the elbow. I'm pretty sure it wasn't terrorism, either.

You THINK it wasn't terrorism. But, today a hangnail. Tomorrow, an in-grown toenail. Then, the comes the dandruff or cold sores...

We are so screwed.
posted by jeanmari at 2:05 PM on September 12, 2005


nothing to report from orange county. we're too boring for terrorists!
posted by killy willy at 2:07 PM on September 12, 2005


Sorry to HAARP on the same subject, but we might be experiencing an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) attack. One of the feared aspects of asymmetrical warfare would be for an enemy to take out our central power grids. This is what we get for relying on a few companies to supply us power for profits rather than pushing the idea of independent power systems. If you think New Orleans is difficult to manage, Los Angeles will be a nightmare if the power doesn't come back on soon. General Thomas E. T. Brutus, I presume?
posted by augustweed at 2:07 PM on September 12, 2005


After explaining to someone at work the outage was city wide, I was asked if I could call someone to have it turned back on immediately !
posted by spunpup at 2:08 PM on September 12, 2005


I seriously doubt we are under EMP attack. There would have to be cheaper and easier methods of accomplishing the same thing.
posted by sonofsamiam at 2:09 PM on September 12, 2005


Troubling insane rant
posted by augustweed at 2:07 PM PST on September 12


Dude seriously
posted by Optimus Chyme at 2:13 PM on September 12, 2005


There's a solar storm going on. Don't those knock out power grids?
posted by brownpau at 2:15 PM on September 12, 2005


Folks, this is not terrorism. Anyone who was living in California in '99 during the frequent blackouts knows that our power grid is hopelessly deficient.
posted by ed at 2:15 PM on September 12, 2005


In other breaking news I lost about fifteen minutes of work. Oh the horror!
posted by rdr at 2:15 PM on September 12, 2005


The word "Scalar" reminds me of "Scali," as in scali bread, and that makes me really really hungry. I wish there were a scali-attack in Boston.

Mmm....electromagnetic pulses...
posted by tpl1212 at 2:16 PM on September 12, 2005


I noticed that my dreamhost sites were down, but I didn't know about the blackout until I read this.
posted by mike3k at 2:16 PM on September 12, 2005


More here.
posted by ed at 2:16 PM on September 12, 2005


spunpup: After explaining to someone at work the outage was city wide, I was asked if I could call someone to have it turned back on immediately!

Man, if that doesn't sum up the entertainment industry.

Also, power's back on in most of Century City. (Over and out)
posted by billysumday at 2:17 PM on September 12, 2005


It looks like the silly Al Qaeda tape from a few days ago has been discredited. Or rather, it's been shown that we shouldn't have paid any attention in the first place to something purporting to be the voice of Al Qaeda.

I'm guessing this blackout will turn out to be a miniature version of the big 2003 blackout, a case of a power grid pushed into doing things it was never designed for, and a few failures due to imperfect human maintenance just nudging it just over the edge.
posted by Western Infidels at 2:20 PM on September 12, 2005


MSNBC/Chris Matthews say "Blackout caused when worker inadvertently cut power line".
posted by nonmerci at 2:24 PM on September 12, 2005


The power outage due Enron-siphoning doesn't make much sense. The power outage due to heat doesn't make much sense (it's cooled off nicely over the past few days here).

Oh and the refineries in Wilmington are shooting massive fireballs into the sky and leaving massive plumes of black smoke (they don't usually burn-off like this... but I reckon they might do it to get excess fuel out of the lines in case of TERRAH?).

Just some thoughts from a local here in Long Beach...
posted by basicchannel at 2:25 PM on September 12, 2005


Does it seem to anyone else that the public infrastructure is falling apart?
posted by H. Roark at 2:27 PM on September 12, 2005


There's a solar storm going on. Don't those knock out power grids?

Forgot about that!
posted by augustweed at 2:27 PM on September 12, 2005


Optimus Chyme writes "Troubling insane rant
"posted by augustweed at 2:07 PM PST on September 12

"Dude seriously"


I shouldn't laugh. But I am. Thanks Optimus...
posted by benzo8 at 2:28 PM on September 12, 2005


After explaining to someone at work the outage was city wide, I was asked if I could call someone to have it turned back on immediately !

Hah, so you work in one of those places too?
posted by Emperor Yamamoto's Eggs at 2:33 PM on September 12, 2005


Does it seem to anyone else that the public infrastructure is falling apart?

The weather has won!
posted by carter at 2:33 PM on September 12, 2005


/admires augustweed's shiny aluminum yarmulke
posted by alumshubby at 2:35 PM on September 12, 2005


Do you think the dinosaurs were ever so tempted to give up? Just give up. I bet them old fuckers went extinct in September.
posted by eatitlive at 2:37 PM on September 12, 2005


tis the season for brown-outs and blackouts.

Uh-huh.
Weird, this ole backwater called the UK hardly ever gets blackouts (or brownouts, WETF they are). So they happen a lot in the world's only superpower do they?
posted by dash_slot- at 2:39 PM on September 12, 2005


Can it, Frenchie!
posted by hackly_fracture at 2:40 PM on September 12, 2005


shiny aluminum yarmulke

It's funny 'cos it's polysyllabic!
Actually did make me smile!
posted by dash_slot- at 2:44 PM on September 12, 2005


I blame Bush.
posted by dsquid at 2:44 PM on September 12, 2005


power's back on, according to an office I support at UCLA.
posted by pmbuko at 2:45 PM on September 12, 2005


George Bush doesn't care about blackouts, people.
posted by eatitlive at 2:46 PM on September 12, 2005


We're running off of a backup generator here on the Glendale/Burbank border. The place smells like an airport from all the diesel fumes. Blech.
posted by Asparagirl at 2:47 PM on September 12, 2005


Reporting in from Miracle Mile to say: sheesh! We're all fine, people! The lights in my office have been flickering off and on since late last week, so when it all blew I immediately assumed it was just something going on with DWP or Edison or something. When the bet's between Crumbling Urban Infrastructure vs. Terra, I think the smart money is still usually on the former rather than the latter.
posted by scody at 2:48 PM on September 12, 2005


Someone, somewhere in LA was hoping this was terrorism. That's probably the scariest.
posted by cleverusername at 2:49 PM on September 12, 2005


With all this rationality going around I'd like to remind everyone of the following word:

TERRAH!

Carrots,

basicchannel
posted by basicchannel at 2:49 PM on September 12, 2005


The power outage due Enron-siphoning doesn't make much sense.

Especially since Los Angeles' power generation is a self-contained grid maintained by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 2:51 PM on September 12, 2005


Asparagirl, did you move out of the neighborhood to Burbank/Glendale? Or do you just work up there? /derail
posted by scody at 2:56 PM on September 12, 2005


Blackout Hits L.A.; Godzilla Ruled Out
posted by tkchrist at 2:56 PM on September 12, 2005


The power has been back on here at Olympic & Bundy on the West Side for half an hour now, and was only out for 1/2 hour. Relax, y'all! It's being restored, no worries.

Asparagirl probably works elsewhere from where she lives! :)
posted by zoogleplex at 2:59 PM on September 12, 2005


I'm a Dreamhost customer. I'm very surprised their backup systems/generators aren't working. DH is a fairly good-sized hosting company.
posted by StewV at 3:07 PM on September 12, 2005


This is obviously a ploy to distract from negative Katrina coverage. I'd check that dude that pulled the plug for links to Haliburton.
posted by dsquid at 3:07 PM on September 12, 2005


Erm, did I do that?? Sorry about that guys. I haven't quite worked out the sparkgaps yet.

*unplugs scary-crufty looking twenty foot tall Tesla coil made out of copper water pipe coils and sheetmetal air ducts. Dives back into warrens beneath CalTech to scurry and hide.*

Solar Weather.
posted by loquacious at 3:07 PM on September 12, 2005


Asparagirl probably works elsewhere from where she lives!

Well, lots of people work at home or within the same neighborhood where they live (e.g., I work two blocks from my apt.), so it seemed like a perfectly normal question to me, since last I knew Asparagirl was living in the same neck of the woods as I.
posted by scody at 3:17 PM on September 12, 2005


Weird, this ole backwater called the UK hardly ever gets blackouts (or brownouts, WETF they are).

Heh. Keep in mind that just the densely populated areas in "Greater Southern Californa" would absolutely blanket and swallow all of London, and a vast swath of Southeastern England besides.

The scale of that city just boggles the fscking mind.
posted by loquacious at 3:19 PM on September 12, 2005


scody, I work in Glendale/Burbank (about 20 feet from the border between the two, in fact). But I did just move last Saturday from my old apartment in the Miracle Mile/Fairfax district to...*gulp*...The Valley.

Hold down the old neighborhood for me, wouldja?

And my job involves working on a Dreamhost-powered site, which as we know is down and out, so I may get out of work early today, yippee!

/me runs off to update Metafilter zip code listing
posted by Asparagirl at 3:21 PM on September 12, 2005




This just in "Utility Error Blamed for L.A. Blackout"

sorry if link doesn't click.


posted by lee at 3:24 PM on September 12, 2005


http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20050912/ap_on_re_us/la_power_outage
posted by lee at 3:24 PM on September 12, 2005


This "Dreamhost", it vibrates?
posted by davy at 3:32 PM on September 12, 2005


The weather has won

Why does Mother Nature hate America?
posted by CynicalKnight at 3:45 PM on September 12, 2005


"The scale of that city just boggles the fscking mind."

Only because it's all low-rise. If it looked like Manhattan it would be pretty darn small.

But then everyone would be really worried when the ground shakes...
posted by zoogleplex at 3:58 PM on September 12, 2005


augustweed writes "Sorry to HAARP on the same subject, but we might be experiencing an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) attack. "

It's my understanding that with an EMP attack stuff just wouldn't come back online.
posted by clevershark at 4:10 PM on September 12, 2005


< makes note to himself to name his new funk/soul band the blackouts>
posted by quadog at 4:18 PM on September 12, 2005


It's my understanding that with an EMP attack stuff just wouldn't come back online.

EMP weapons will most likely semi-permanently incapacitate embedded computers in cars and possibly power infrastructure, stoplights, etc. Things like that wouldn't come up again if the power went back on.

They don't have that great of range, require a lot of power, and have to be carried on a big truck.

I'm down with tinfoil-territory, augustweed, but remember Occam! Sexy as EMP weapons are, they're not very practical at this point in time (bar the US military) and are unlikely to be used by either terrorists or antagonistic states.
posted by sonofsamiam at 4:26 PM on September 12, 2005


If the LA metro area had the population density of Manhattan, it would cover more area than Greater London by about 68km&sup2 and a population density 5.5 times higher. According to wikipedia.
posted by fleacircus at 4:28 PM on September 12, 2005


&sup2;
posted by fleacircus at 4:28 PM on September 12, 2005


impressive!
posted by zoogleplex at 4:40 PM on September 12, 2005


I don't get why people would thought this might be terrorism. The blackout happened at about 2:00 p.m. on a beautiful sunny day in Los Angeles. Why would a terrorist turn off the power during the day, after the lunch hour rush? How is a power failure anything more than a minor irritation?
posted by rdr at 4:41 PM on September 12, 2005


&sup2;w/u
posted by basicchannel at 4:41 PM on September 12, 2005


Zoogleplex: Not all of LA is lowrise. Tallest building West of the Mississippi is there in downtown LA.

The huge expansive gray area that I'm referring to in that google satellite map link above wouldn't even fit into Manhattan, not even if Manhattan was twice or three times as tall.

Estimated 2004 population for all five of the counties comprising the greater NYC area: 8,008,278

Estimated 2004 population of the five counties that comprise the Greater Southern California Metropolitan area (most of which live in that "huge gray area", which really is pretty much one long and wide spread of continuous urban/suburban development: 19,650,125

Los Angeles County: 9,937,739
Orange County: 2,987,591
Riverside County: 1,871,950
San Bernardino County: 1,921,131
San Diego County: 2,931,714


Keep in mind this isn't a qualitative statement, just a quantitative one. It's about resource and logistics. I'm amazed that the power there stays on at all. Also because of the sprawl and higher individual building counts there's more wire, more substations, more connections and junctions; More things to go wrong. (IE, you generally feed power to a tower of apartments or a high rise at one point. But each house or 4 plex here gets it's own connection. Vastly more complex, even if it's not as obviously dense.)

People make the mistake of trying to view Los Angeles (the City) as an independent entity. It's just a small chunk of the larger picture. Also, a lot of the land/space in LA proper isn't primarily residential like a lot of the outlying 'burbs are, which drives down census counts for the city itself. It's just the core of a huge metropolitan/suburban spread, with hundreds of satellite cores or islands of "urbanity", each with it's own hub of highrise "downtowns" and sprawls of suburban development around it.

Tagline:

Los Angeles: A huge gray area.
posted by loquacious at 4:43 PM on September 12, 2005


Should have called these guys.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:57 PM on September 12, 2005


quadog, the name is taken.
posted by litlnemo at 5:07 PM on September 12, 2005


"The scale of that city just boggles the fscking mind."

I lived in LA 1985-1992 and Tokyo 1992-2000. Tokyo was one helluva city.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 5:09 PM on September 12, 2005


I haven't been, but Tokyo is just off the scale. And fattening itself up for Godzilla.
posted by loquacious at 5:19 PM on September 12, 2005


loquacious, ya done learned me something about my (adopted, yet nonetheless dearly loved) hometown. Much obliged! :)

You have to add something to the tagline tho...

Los Angeles: a huge gray area full of cars.

However, being formerly from the other huge metro area, it's not proper to only look at NYC's 5 Boroughs (each of which is a county as well); you need to add in Long Island (Nassau & Suffolk counties), Westchester County, Fairfield County in Connecticut, and at the very least Hudson, Bergen, Essex, Union and Passaic Counties in NJ. I'd throw in Morris, Somerset and northern Middlesex, too, as they all have highway and train arteries leading into NYC, and many commuters travel that far. The suburban sprawl there isn't so different from here, quantitatively, though it looks a lot different. Economically the whole area is as linked as Greater SoCal.

Don't have the time to look up that set of population stats, but my hunch is that it would exceed that of SoCal by a significant amount.

Anyway, consider me schooled :)
posted by zoogleplex at 5:23 PM on September 12, 2005


Brown got a new job already?
posted by pjern at 5:45 PM on September 12, 2005


Reports in of several backstabbings and feces spread everywhere. This mostly contained to the television and entertainment sections of the city.
posted by hal9k at 6:03 PM on September 12, 2005


maybe enron is back?
posted by muppetboy at 6:22 PM on September 12, 2005


Sort of unsettling that one worker cutting one line could create such a huge problem.
posted by notmydesk at 6:39 PM on September 12, 2005


zoogleplex:
Taking the New York metro area population of 10.761m, we can throw in the entire states of NJ (8.7m) and CT (3.5m) and wind up with ~23m which isn't significantly above LA considering.
posted by fleacircus at 7:38 PM on September 12, 2005


Estimated 2004 population for all five of the counties comprising the greater NYC area...

That's not the "greater NYC area." That's just New York City. The city includes those five counties, each of which is what we call a borough.

The NYC Metro area includes major parts of New Jersey, Connecticut and southern New York state.
posted by bshort at 8:28 PM on September 12, 2005


loquacious : "Heh. Keep in mind that just the densely populated areas in 'Greater Southern Californa' would absolutely blanket and swallow all of London, and a vast swath of Southeastern England besides."

Hmmm...Lived in Tokyo for 8 years, and have never experienced or even heard of a power outage, even when typhoons hit...and I suspect the Tokyo/Yokohama/Kawasaki/Chiba urban sprawl is pretty big.
posted by Bugbread at 8:43 PM on September 12, 2005


Yeah, but have you seen LA? That place is held together with spit and glitter. Not bricks or steel. ;)
posted by loquacious at 8:53 PM on September 12, 2005


The Blackouts was also Frank Zappa's first band.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 9:59 PM on September 12, 2005


Tallest building West of the Mississippi is there in downtown LA.

The library tower, you mean? I was solemnly informed when I worked there that it was the primary target west of the St. Louis Arch because of its stature, but jeez, it just isn't much. San Franciscans think the same of the TransAmerica Pyramid.

I don't know; if I were a terrorist, I'd target a dam.
posted by goofyfoot at 3:31 AM on September 13, 2005


Good luck with that Barnes Wallis.
posted by longbaugh at 4:36 AM on September 13, 2005


OMG TERRAH!

Seriously, some dude cut a cable. Relax.

Tell you what, though. I'm in Santa Monica... power goes out for a bit, traffic lights go out, and I couldn't get home until 9. This town has horrific traffic as it is, but you throw a little wrench like a power outage into the mix and we're hosed.

/nervous
posted by AspectRatio at 7:22 AM on September 13, 2005


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