Laurissa Anyas-Weiss, content producer
June 3, 2009 — At 4:11 p.m. ET on Aug. 14, 2003, Ontario and much of the northeastern U.S. were hit by the largest blackout in North America's history.
Electricity was cut to 50 million people, bringing darkness to customers from New York to Toronto to North Bay.
Streetlights went out, subway trains stopped mid-tunnel and refrigeration equipment went dead. And while some electricity consumers had service restored by early the next morning, many areas remained in darkness well into the next day and even the one following.
The blame was leveled squarely on the management of an Ohio power company and the weather. A combination of hot weather that expanded the power lines (causing them to sag) and low winds that prevented lines from cooling off was the tag to the weather. The additional sagging caused the looping lines to touch untrimmed tree branches, shutting down transmission lines across the East.