Power Outage at CES 2018 in Las Vegas: Here’s What Happened

CES 2018 blackout power outage Las Vegas
Laptops during the power outage January 10 at CES 2018. Credit: Mariel Myers on Twitter

On the second day of CES 2018, the Las Vegas Convention Center lost power for nearly two hours. The blackout at the world’s largest annual technology and innovation showcase occurred after heavy rainfall caused a transformer at the center to fail.

The lights went off abruptly at nearly 11:15 am PT on Wednesday, CNET’s John Falcone reported. Security officers ushered attendees out of the halls during the blackout. The mood was largely calm and relaxed early on, Falcone wrote, although anyone who had put a phone in an electronic charging locker was unable to access it for the duration.

“A preliminary assessment indicates that condensation from heavy rainfall caused a flashover on one of the facility’s transformers,” a public statement from the Las Vegas Convention Center read. “The outage caused a power surge in the facility and was quickly isolated to the Central Hall and South Hall bridge meeting rooms. We are working with the power company to restore power as soon as possible.”

When the lights went out, Twitter lit up with photos and updates from attendees. CNET writer Jessica Dolcourt called the outage a massive failure of basic technology at an event with roughly 180,000 attendees where companies spend hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Some exhibitors kept going, however. CNET senior producer Mariel Myers tweeted a photo showing that the Samsung booth was still running, adding that the company had their own private power service. Flashlights came in handy at the Intel booth. Device-maker Wiltronic Corporation continued to do demos using fully charged laptops, CNN Tech reported.

During the blackout, Roadshow editor in chief Tim Stevens tweeted that the lights also flickered at a hotel where he was on the other side of town. The power at the Las Vegas Convention Center was restored around 1:20 pm with help from NV Power.

Sudden record-breaking downpours on Day One of CES was the first rain for Las Vegas in 116 days, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported. It was so intense that the Convention Center ceiling began leaking. Local flights were delayed and canceled, and floodwaters prompted several rescues.

The weather has since cleared up and today marks the final day of CES 2018.

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