How was your Super Bowl weekend? Mine involved a total lack of electricity, heat and football, while those lucky enough to view the game witnessed a sudden, unexpected power failure that left half of the Superdome in darkness.

Inspired by both those equally notable power outages, Listed looks at some of the most memorable blackouts in history, and what exactly caused them. Hint: when it comes to electricity, it seems little mistakes can have incredible consequences.

5. Super Bowl XLVII (2013)


What ended up being a relatively straightforward, if pretty darn entertaining, Super Bowl game was delayed by more than half an hour after a power outage plunged part of the Superdome into stark blackness. An omen of the Ravens’ eventual victory?

Who turned out the lights: As of our deadline officials still haven’t revealed the exact cause of the power outage, probably because one of them is responsible. If so, it would be the second-most egregious football-related coverup in recent memory ... by a long mile.

4. Northeast Blackout (1965)


Thirty million people in Ontario and seven states were effected by the Northeast blackout of 1965. It was notable at the time for its reach, and later for studies on its aftermath. Contrary to urban myth it did not lead to a boom of “blackout babies” nine months later, and crime / looting rates were comparatively low compared to later, similarly urban-effecting outages.

Who turned out the lights: Blame went to human error; a safety relay intended to trip the transmission line in case of overloading was set too low.

3. Northeast Blackout (2003)


On a hot August day in 2003, a generous slice of the Midwestern United States and all of Ontario suddenly went dark. Some areas were without air conditioning and access to cable television for almost two days.

Who turned out the lights: While some pundits were quick to blame consumer overuse, long after everyone stopped caring the cause was revealed as a combination of mechanical and human error. A downed power line in Ohio that would have normally triggered an alarm didn’t, causing a chain reaction of failures that completely baffled the college interns who manned the system.

2. Southern Brazil Blackout (1999)


What happened: Up to an estimated 97 million people were effected by the Southern Brazil blackout of ’99, which at the time ranked as the most widespread outage in history, though it lasted only a comparatively brief few hours.

Who turned out the lights: God. A bolt of lightning struck an electricity substation, triggering automatic system shutdowns. A lack of upkeep on the country’s power grid was cited as a contributing factor.

1. The Great Indian Blackout (2012)


What happened: History’s most devastating power outrage happened in July of 2012, effecting 320 million Indian citizens. Another 300 million more would’ve been effected, if they’d had access to electricity in the first place. So they really dodged a bullet.

Who turned out the lights: India’s rising population and quality of life long ago outpaced its ability to maintain electricity, and such a blackout, while not inevitable, was not entirely surprising. The country’s Power Minister (a position probably much, much less exciting than it sounds) blamed over-consumption, high demand and weakened equipment on the outage.

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