(USA Today) LAS VEGAS — Think you're having a rough week? The Consumer Technology Association is right there with you.
The CES global trade show that seeks to extol the wonders of our connected world just illustrated a big Achilles' heel: Without electricity, not much happens. Late morning on Wednesday, the power went down in a main hall at the Las Vegas Convention Center, sending thousands of vendors and visitors outdoors or to other venues. The darkened hall houses booths from some of tech's biggest companies, including LG, Samsung, Panasonic, Intel and Sony.
The rare blackout follows rains that had shuttered some events at the show, whose location in the Nevada desert usually offers visitors a respite from snow and frigid temperatures elsewhere in the country.
Record-breaking rains hit Las Vegas on Tuesday, leading to flooding and the closing of some major booths, including Google's.
That was enough to cut the power Wednesday, even though the sun had come out by then.
"A preliminary assessment indicates that condensation from heavy rainfall caused a flashover on one of the facility's transformers," the CTA, Las Vegas Visitor and Convention Authority and NV Energy — which provides electricity to the Las Vegas Convention Center — said in a joint statement.
After close to two hours without power, electricity was restored and the areas that had been evacuated reopened.
As one would expect at an event filled with tech enthusiasts, plenty of pictures and videos of the eerily darkened scene hit Twitter during the outage, with the hashtag #CESBlackout quickly becoming a top trending topic.
Some publicists even tried to exploit the power outage. A company with a smart sleep device called Aromarest began an email pitch by saying, "Having the lights go out, as they did today at CES, is one way to get some sleep."
CES attracts about 180,000 attendees and roughly 4,000 exhibitors. Both large and smaller ones rely on the annual trade show to ink deals that will translate to cash months in the future; the blackout disrupted some of the product demos, panels and meetings key to those deals.
And in a sign of the huge energy draw from the tech show, once the crowds were let back in, the return to full, blazing electronic glory was slow.
TV maker LG's OLED Canyon display demo, with 246 OLED panels and more than 30 high-definition generators, took nearly an hour to get back in full operation.
"After coming to CES for so many years with all of the power draw that this show puts on, I was surprised that happened because it's never happened before to my knowledge," says Tim Alessi, head of home entertainment product marketing for LG Electronics USA.