Monday, August 10, 2020

Power outage/Transformer blowing up?

A major storm front moved across Indiana in a southeastern direction, causing property damage across the state and about 50,000 people to lose power.

On Monday nights I run online the Greenwood Chess Club that I started five years ago. We are not meeting in person because of the pandemic.

While I was playing chess online, I noticed that it was storming outside and at 8:35 PM my power went out. This was accompanied by a very loud buzzing sound that had me worried. The first thing I did was to text the guy I had been playing to tell him that my power went out.

The power toggled on and off, again with the troubling loud buzzing. I decided to investigate. The power came back on. I opened my garage and stepped outside. This time I saw what looked like a huge electrical spark above my neighbor's house accompanied by that loud buzzing sound again, but this looked like nothing I had ever seen before. It was obviously an electrical spark, but it looked more like an orange vertical bar. (Electrical sparks cause the electrons to be stripped off of air molecules, which turns the air into the 4th state of matter, called Plasma. When you see an electrical spark, what you are really seeing is the plasma emit light. You can't actually see electricity.) I figured that this had to be a transformer in the process of blowing up. Maybe it was on fire, which might explain why the spark was orange in color, although I'm not sure that this is a good explanation. Maybe the chemicals in the transformer caused the spark to look orange.

This looked scary. My first thought was that I did not want this to burn down my neighbor's house and then take mine with it. There were people in the street watching this strange sight, and I yelled at them and asked if they had called 9-11. They said that they had. One of the neighbors yelled that there was a tree on fire, but I couldn't see this from my vantage point. Then immediately the power went off again and I was relieved because the situation looked very dangerous. Very shortly fire trucks drove by, so I thought thank goodness the Fire Department is here, but they just kept on driving. In the middle of a thunderstorm, they probably had other problems to deal with.

I was not inclined to get any closer to investigate, especially since it was still storming outside. There was a huge crack of lightning close by which convinced me to seek shelter back in the house.

So I mostly sat in the dark texting my friends about what happened until the power came back on 2 hours and 20 minutes later.

Best wishes,

John Coffey

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