MN, WI - Y2k glitches in Twin Cities: US Bancorp, NW Airlines, Northern States Power Co. : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

(Y2k glitches in the Twin Cities are marked in italics, mine)

Published Tuesday, February 29, 2000

Twin Cities companies will monitor computers on Leap Day

Steve Alexander / Star Tribune

Leap Year caused a few computer problems when Feb. 29 dawned in Japan, but U.S. corporations were confident that last year's Y2K software repair efforts had solved potential date problems in this country.

Even so, Twin Cities corporations said they would monitor computer operations for any possible date errors related to today's date, Feb. 29.

Leap Day threw off computer calendars at Japan's Meteorological Agency, where machines at six observatories in Tokyo and other cities failed to correctly recognize Feb. 29. Agency spokesman Ippei Eguchi said Monday that the error was quickly fixed, although he did not say how it affected operations.

But overall, computer consultants expected a quiet transition into March, despite warnings that computers might treat Feb. 29 as March 1. "This is sort of closure on the Year 2000 efforts, like the final frontier here," said Dale Vecchio, research director at technology consultant Gartner Group.

Leap Year 2000 posed Y2K computer risks because it didn't fit the rules for putting leap years into the calendar.

Normally, years that end in "00" are not leap years, but 2000 is because it is divisible by 400. If any software developers had forgotten that, computers running the software could generate error messages or skip ahead to March 1. Even so, Leap Year was considered far less risky to computers than Jan. 1, when nothing widely disruptive occurred.

Computer systems officials in the Twin Cities said they would cautiously watch the Leap Year date transition.

Rob Haas, manager of Year 2000 coordination and communications at U.S. Bancorp in St. Paul, said he expected no problems "because we tested everything before Jan. 1." But computer operations are being monitored because it's critical that bank computers take into account the extra day in Leap Year, he said. If they didn't, the calculation of interest payments might be affected and month-end financial calculations could be thrown off.

The bank has more than 100 computer calendars to check, Haas said. The main computer servers all share a single clock that determines the day, but personal computers take their date from the central clocks in about 100 local area computer networks. However, Feb. 29 is nearly the last Y2K milestone date the bank plans to watch; the last one will occur at the end of the first quarter, Haas said. The bank encountered only a few minor Y2K problems on Jan. 1, such as reports that printed out the wrong headings.

Northwest Airlines in Eagan said it expects no Leap Year problems because its computer systems that take advance reservations and schedule future airline crews and maintenance work long ago crossed the Feb. 29 date barrier without problems.

For the same reason, Northwest was confident that Jan. 1 would cause few problems, said spokeswoman Kathy Peach. The only glitch in January was a computer that ordered too many meals for the number of airplane passengers that were flying.

Henry Miles, managing director of information systems and Y2K project leader at brokerage firm Dain Rauscher in Minneapolis, said his firm will monitor the full 24 hours between Feb. 28 and March 1 to make sure that transactions processed on the first Leap Day of the century are handled correctly.

"We believe we're OK going into Leap Year, but we are not smug. We'll have senior people working Monday and Tuesday nights to make sure the processing cycle runs smoothly," Miles said.

Ken Ehalt, Northern States Power Co. Year 2000 project director, said there would be "heightened awareness" surrounding computer operations on Leap Day, but no extra people working because of it. NSP plans to continue monitoring computers for Y2K through the end of the first quarter.

"This is the last of the big Y2K dates," Ehalt said. "With the results of two months ago, we're very confident everything will be just fine." The only Y2K effects NSP found in January were malfunctions in a couple of internal project scheduling programs; repairs took less than an hour and customers weren't affected, he said.

-- This story contains material from the Associated Press

Source: Star Tribune, Minneapolis, Minnesota

-- Lee Maloney (, March 20, 2000


I think it's rather presumptuous of Mr Ehalt (Northern States Power Co. Year 2000 project director) to blame software malfunctions on Y2k. Surely "mylar balloons" and "squirrels" are to blame!

Published Saturday, January 1, 2000

Cause of electrical failure? Balloons, not millennial bug

Northern State States Power Co. reported a mostly calm night with only routine minor power failures not attributable to the Y2K bug. But 3,056 NSP customers lost electricity about 12:30 a.m today because of a power line that was damaged by two Mylar balloons near 50th St. and Penn Av. S. in Minneapolis. The company said it was able to restore power to roughly half of the affected customers within 40 minutes. It wasn't immediately known when power would be fully restored.

Though the failure wasn't related to the Y2K computer bug, it was scary all the same, local residents said. "We were sitting watching TV, and it went black. I'm freaked out," said Deann Fischer, who lives on Upton Av. S. The affected area was bounded by Xerxes Avenue, Lyndale Avenue, Minnehaha Creek and 45th St.

NSP reported that about 700 other customers lost power Friday in its five-state service area. Most failures were because of such mundane causes as squirrels shorting out transformers.

Because NSP monitors the ebb and flow of power over several states, it also was able to tell that an apparent Y2K glitch at Wisconsin Electric Power Co., based in Milwaukee, had no significant effect on the Midwestern power grid. The Wisconsin computer failure, which caused a computer clock to jump ahead 35 days, was suspicious because it occurred at 6 p.m. Twin Cities time, which is midnight Greenwich time, an international time standard.

Throughout the evening, NSP had about 30 percent more power in reserve than it needed, about double the amount of extra power generating capacity it normally has running. That extra generating capacity was ordered for all U.S. electric power companies by a national trade organization, the North American Electric Reliability Council in Princeton, N.J.

Source: Steve Alexander, Star-Tribune, Minneapolis, Minnesota i-bin/article?thisSlug=AY2K01&date=01-Jan- 2000&word=glitches&word=glitch

-- Lee Maloney (, March 20, 2000.


-- Uncle Bob (, March 20, 2000.

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