Raleigh, NC, U.S.A. --- (METERING.COM) --- February 27, 2012 - Around 41.8 million people were affected due to multiple, massive power failures in the United States in 2011, up from 17.5 million affected the previous year, according to Eaton’s annual blackout tracker.

This is despite the number of outages declining slightly to 3,071 in 2011, from 3,149 in 2010.

Further, according to the tracker, the average number of people affected per outage was over 21,100 and the average outage duration was 221 minutes.

California continues to top the list of states with the most outages in 2011, as it has for the past two years since the full annual records have been tracked. Also, California tops the lists of outages caused by weather/falling trees, vehicle accident, and faulty equipment/human error.

The tracker details the top five most significant outages reported as:

  1. Hurricane Irene, which cut a path up the East Coast knocking out power for over six million people from North Carolina to Maine during August 26-29
  2. Possible human error, which led to a massive outage knocking out power to approximately four million people in southern California and part of Arizona for 12 hours on September 8
  3. Surprise early fall snow storm, which caused power outages and created havoc for 1.75 million people in the Mid-Atlantic to Maine during October 28-30
  4. Powerful line of thunderstorms over Chicago, which left 700,000 people in the dark on July 11
  5. Winter storm with snow, sleet and ice, which caused outages for over 400,000 people in Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia on January 27.

And the most unusual causes of outages?

  • A trampoline was picked up by strong winds and dropped it into a substation, causing a fault that cut power for 11,000 people in Spokane, WA.
  • A fawn, killed by a bald eagle but dropped on the way back to the nest on a powerline, caused a 30 minute outage in East Missoula, MO.
  • A paraglider accidentally collided with a powerline, causing a three-hour power outage in Salt Lake City, Utah.
  • A boat being towed on its trailer knocked down five power poles, interrupting power for 1,000 people in San Leon, TX.
  • A race car flew over the wall at the Peoria Speedway (AZ) and hit a powerline, cutting power to the track for about an hour.

And, notably, more outages were caused by squirrels than all other animals and birds combined!