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In Brief

UC Berkeley In Brief

Lightning storm disrupts campus power, computing systems

– A lightning storm Wednesday night disrupted power to many campus services, including forcing a temporary shutdown of the main campus data center at Evans Hall.

Lightning struck the PG&E transmission line supplying campus at 10:41 p.m., according to Michael Hayes, spokesman for Physical Plant-Campus Services. Power was restored shortly after midnight, and core computing systems were back online by 2:30 a.m., but some sporadic problems continued into Thursday, including resetting of alarm panels and circuit breakers tripped by the outage.

Shelton Waggener, director of Central Computer Services, spent the wee hours of the morning overseeing the restoration of computing services. He said that by the start of business Thursday morning, "All the main services – financial, academic, CalMail – all the campus core networks have tested green and we have redundant systems in place."

The last major piece to be returned to operation was the mailing lists run on the old UCLink e-mail server. Waggener said that when the power went out, "The UCLink machine shut down, and somehow it got corrupted in the crash." It was finally put back online about 4:20 p.m. Thursday.

Most MajorDomo and other mailing list messages sent during the outage were saved in the queue and delivered once service was restored. However, users who sent messages to campus mailing lists during the outage and received a bounced message with the error "mail loop: too many hops" will need to resend the message.

Waggener said that some secondary systems had remained offline longer than the core functions, in part because it took longer to discover that the power failure had knocked them out.

"The systems are old in Evans, and somewhat temperamental," Waggener said in explaining the widespread nature of the systems outage. But because temporary backup power allowed technicians time to deal with the problem, "We were able to do a graceful shutdown of all critical systems," and then bring them back online safely once normal power was restored.

Continuing power outages or other storm-related problems affecting campus facilities should be reported to the PP-CS Call Center at 642-1032. Updates on the status of campus computing systems are available online.