Around 4:10 p.m. on August 14, 2003, electrical transmission lines running through Ohio disconnected--thanks to toppled trees that forced Cleveland area power lines to draw more energy--and blackouts started to cascade across the system. NYC was left, along with other parts of the Northeast, Midwest, and Canada, without electrical power.

Power did come back about 30 hours later, but not after New York residents were trapped in elevators and subways, unable to make cell phone calls (because lines were overloaded), walked home or stayed with friends, finished out whatever was in their or restaurants' fridges and maybe got a little busy, too (though there was no ensuing blackout baby boom). And that was just the precursor to investigating what happened.

The Department of Energy's final report attributed the blackout to a combination of human error (as in, please trim the darn trees around power lines) and equipment problems and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has since taken a greater role in overseeing reliability standards. Now, five years later, it's time to think about whether it can happen again.

The non-profit North American Electric Reliability Corporation president Rick Sergel said, “I can confidently say that the events that led to the 2003 blackout are now much less likely to occur." Less likely? Like how less likely? And with energy demand estimated to rise almost 30% by 2030, some people are worried, including the head of American Electric Power Michael Morris, who told the AP, "I'm really not a Chicken Little player, but I worry that no one seems to be focusing in on this," fearing even bigger blackouts in the future.

Scientific American has a great article looking the state of the power grid these days (it's not "smart"). And please share your "Where were you..." 2003 blackout nostalgia! Our favorite fun fact: 30 million gallons of sewage were released into the East River during the blackout because DEP backup generators weren't working. And possibly the best blackout quote is this Brooklyn resident's reasoning while throwing 40 pounds of spoiled food to the Daily News, "I guess if I wanted to kill off my family, I could serve them this, but I kind of like the mopes."

And in recent years, the city's blackouts have more to do with Con Ed than a nationwide issue, forcing more scrutiny on the agency.