11 Weird Things That Caused Major Power Outages

turkeyNorth American Turkey, blackout risk.

What do turkeys have in common with the space shuttle endeavour, and seagulls, other than being able to fly?

In the past 18 months, they’ve all caused power outages. 

So have snakes, squirrels, seagulls, and a criminal fleeing the police.

One high profile power outage was even caused by a device that was installed specifically to prevent a power outage. 

We take power availability for granted, but turns out it’s not that easy to keep the lights on.

Eaton Corporation, a power management company, put together a list of strange things that caused power outages in 2012, and we’ve added a couple of more recent ones to the list. 

Space Shuttle endeavour

October 12, 2012 -- Los Angeles, Calif. power authorities shut down power for four hours when the space shuttle endeavour was making its final land journey through the streets of the city, to its permanent home at the California Science centre.

A bicycle chain

June 17, 2012 -- Someone in Mountain View, Calif. through it would be a good idea to celebrate Father's Day by throwing a bicycle chain at some utility equipment. The prank took out power to more than 1,500 customers for close to an hour as power authorities scrambled to figure out what happened.

A wild turkey

April 8, 2012 -- Wild turkeys aren't known for their flying skills.

This became clear to people in Sonoma County, Calif. after a turkey accidentally flew into some power lines and was immediately transformed into Thanksgiving dinner.

The unfortunate bird's mishap took down the regional emergency 911 dispatch system and also slowed things down at the county court house and jail the following day.


June 9, 2013 --A squirrel found its way into an electrical substation in Kalamazoo, Mich., taking out power to about 2,000 people throughout the city.

June 11, 2013 -- In Austin, Texas, a squirrel in the Burnet Road/Gracy Farms region of the city was 'fussing with the electrical equipment' and took out power for 3,000 Austin Energy customers, according to the Austinist.

Ironic Super Bowl outage

February 3, 2013 -- A partial power outage during the Super Bowl in February was caused by a piece of equipment, called an electrical relay device, that was installed specifically to prevent outages from happening, New Orleans power authorities later explained. The outage delayed the game for 34 minutes.

A passing train

February 21, 2012 -- A Conrail train snagged some telephone company wires in Bayonne, NJ, and that took down three power lines carrying 13,000 volts each. This caused a small brush fire alongside the train tracks, and 800 customers lost power for about two hours.

A fleeing felon

August 25, 2012 -- A suspected felon from Colorado caused a big power outage for customers in Casper, Wyo. He was running from the cops when his car crashed into a utility pole, taking out electricity for some 4,000 homes.

A snake

May 16, 2012 -- A six-foot snake slithered its way into an electrical substation in Gadsen, Ala. and got zapped, causing a power outage affecting some 6,800 area customers for more than two hours.

A seagull

March 10, 2013 -- A seagull flew into power lines in Napa, Calif. and got electrocuted. In the ensuing explosion, power lines fell on top of a nearby minivan and a laundromat. This happened on a Sunday morning, and 3,000 people lost power as a result, the Napa Valley Patch reported.


March 19, 2013 -- In Taiwan's Kinmen County, termites munched through underground utility cables and caused a three-hour power outage, according to news website Focus Taiwan. These pests, which thrive in Taiwan's humid climate, have caused numerous power outages in the past.

A suicidal man

March 25, 2012 -- After a depressed man climbed to the top of an electrical tower and threatened to jump, Bakersfield, Calif. power authorities decided to shut down electricity for 25,000 people. The man eventually climbed down.

You've read about these weird causes of power outages...

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