|Cables were loose on the pole|
WHAT IS IT? There are apparently several cables that go into your home from the power lines. It's basically a "phased" distribution of power to you house. It's often called ‘Single-Phasing’ and the power failure occurs when one of the three power feeds to your house is loose, disconnected or broken.
HOW IT WORKS - Each is connected to a part of the house, and doesn't really mean anything when it comes to your "fuse box/circuit breaker box." So, if one line becomes loose, it can take out power to part of your house and won't through the fuse switches on your fuse box.
HOW TO KNOW - In our house, the lights in the kitchen and the microwave, lights in the den and living room kept flickering and would shut off for awhile. It took me awhile to realize that every time the wind blew outside, the lights would flicker but only in the kitchen, living room and den. All three of those rooms have different switches in the fuse box/circuit breaker box, so that made me think that it could not be something plugged in one room, because they were on different switches. So it HAD to be outside. Further, the downstairs hallway and bedroom lights remained on, as did all of the upstairs lights. So that was weird.
THE CLUE - If no switches are flipped in the circuit breaker box, and the power is out in just a part of the house, it could very likely be a phase distribution power loss.
IT'S PRETTY COMMON - One of the electricians said that losing one phase is quite a common occurrence. It happened at her house, but in her case, the power lines were buried and they had to dig a 5-foot deep hole in her front yard. What's interesting is that neither of us can every remember the phase distribution power loss happening at our parents' houses.
WHO DO YOU CALL? - Not an electrician. At least not at first. Call the power company and have them check the lines outside to the house. If they're loose, as one of our lines was, they just need to tighten it and it solves the problem (it did for us). If not, it may be an internal problem, and THAT'S when you call an electrician.
CAUTION - Turn off the breakers for the rooms affected. Woodharbinger.com had an in-depth article that explained how the remaining current can adversely affect your computer, TV, etc. - Once confirmed, disconnect the power by switching off the main breaker in your electrical panel. This will spare your equipment from operating undervoltage. If you catch it quick enough, you could save hundreds of dollars instead of replacing your computer, HD TV, Blu-ray player, etc.
GREAT EXPERIENCE WITH BGE - I called Baltimore Gas and Electric (BGE) at 6:07p.m. and they took my report of flickering lights. I called back at 7:08 p.m. and reported the power was out in part of the house (and after talking with our friend Will, he clued me in to phase power distribution). The BGE serviceman, a hunky, tall, bearded man named Milton (I believe that was his name) arrived at 9:07 p.m. and I explained the symptoms and what I thought may be the case. He checked the house connection and then the pole, and that's where it was. He said it likely came loose from windy conditions, and an 10 minutes he fixed the issue!.