Widespread power cuts in the

Widespread power cuts in the US. Solar flare?
UPDATE: According to the New York Times, the Niagra Mohawk grid was overloaded and collapsed. My dad has just called to discuss it (my parents are like that), and he wasn’t taken in by my solar flare theory – plausible, but unlikely, was his verdict. He reckons one section of the grid collapsed, which led to neighbouring sections also failing. And, in case you wonder how he might know, he worked in the electricity supply industry for 43 years.
Either way, this is a systems failure on a massive scale. Reports I’m reading right now speak of black outs extending from Maryland to Toronto and from Detroit to New York city. That’s an awfully big area, with a lot of people and businesses. And the people stuck on the New York subway right now must be really panicking.
Note also that the web seems to be holding up, in spite of the fact that a large number of nodes will be without power at the moment. Either that or their gennies are holding up.
HISTORICAL NOTE: this event is not without precedent: 1965, when a single relay failure in Ontario caused power failures over an area almost identical to today’s blackout, and 1977, when four lightning strikes in New York caused blackout within the city.