What could garbage, a goose and gusty winds possibly have in common? Believe it or not, each was responsible for knocking out power in November, representing a share of the 239 total outages Eaton’s Blackout Tracker logged throughout the month. Impacting more than 864,000 U.S. utility customers for a collective 15+ days, power outages took a toll on residents and businesses alike.
It really stinks when the power goes out — and residents in Atlanta, Ga., can attest to this quite literally. On Nov. 6, more than 5,000 customers were left in the dark after a large garbage dumpster was dropped by a crane. The dumpster, filled with heavy items, knocked down power lines as it fell, which led to a chaos-causing rush hour outage.
Wild goose chase
Duck, duck … goose! That was the culprit behind a Nov. 30 blackout in Redmond, Ore., that left 5,400 customers without electricity. Crews reported that when the large bird flew into an overhead transmission line that crosses the Deschutes, it forced the phases to slap together, which then caused the circuit breaker to open at the BPA substation. Let’s just say one’s goose got cooked in the incident.
Gone with the wind
Across the nation, utility crews struggled to restore power as hundreds of thousands of customers were left in the wind. Nearly 150,000 people in western Washington and another 70,000 in Seattle were in the dark after a powerful windstorm blew through the region on Nov. 13. And winds of a whole other level — fueled by speeds of 111 to 135 mph, to be exact — caused 42,000 power outages in Celina, Ohio, on Nov. 5 after a pair of EF2 tornadoes pummeled the area. Debris littered the ground as roofs were torn off of buildings and utility poles were sent crashing to the ground. In all, Eaton tracked 32 weather-related blackouts last month.
Thirty-six of November’s power outages can be attributed to vehicles. According to police, a woman was looking at her GPS when she hit a pole and flipped her car in Charlotte, N.C., Nov. 17. Meanwhile, in Phoenix on Nov. 13, a semi truck left 4,000 customers without electricity after it caught an overhead power line, snapping it and causing low- and high-voltage lines to spark.
Ten of the month’s 14 animal-related outages were attributed to pesky squirrels. One bushy-tailed rodent got into a lightning arrestor on a line in Bend, Ore., on Nov. 30, knocking out power to 140 customers for 3 hours and marking the region’s second animal-related power outage of the day (remember the aforementioned goose?). Military families at Oklahoma’s Altus Air Force Base had their Thanksgiving feasts delayed a few hours when the installation lost power after another squirrel made its way into a transformer.
Meanwhile, there were a lot of unhappy shoppers and chefs (2,736, to be exact) in Omaha Thanksgiving morning after a major power outage hit the metro. OPPD reported that a large bird flew into a substation, causing some damage and a power outage on two circuits. It was unconfirmed whether said bird was a turkey attempting to flee his fate.