2007_06_lightningstrikes.jpgCon Ed is laying the blame on Mame Mother Nature for the two power outages this past week. The utility issued a statement saying that the 48-minute blackout on Wednesday - the one that hit the Upper East Side and South Bronx - was caused by a "strong lightning strike." This is what the Con Ed statement said:

Information obtained from real-time lightning tracking data show that detection instruments measured a lightning strike of 34,000 amperes in the vicinity of a substation in Queens at 3:42 p.m. on Wednesday, precisely at the time of the power loss. The lightning strike momentarily affected communication equipment that prompted circuit breakers on multiple transmission feeders to open, causing the service interruption.

As for a Thursday power failure that affected Queens residents and business owners for two hours, Con Ed also blamed lightning. But that still makes politicians, especially ones from Queens who remember the lingering Queens blackout of last summer, nervous. Assemblyman Michael Gianaris said, "[Con Ed's] word over the last year has proven not to be worth very much. Their history is to obfuscate."

In fact, City Councilman Eric Gioia offered a list of supplies Con Ed customers should have on hand in case of a blackout. Via the Queens Courier: "Several gallons of water (per person), food (3-day supply of non-perishables), a battery-powered radio, flashlight and extra batteries, a first aid kit, a whistle to signal for help, prescription medicine and glasses, infant formula and diapers, pet food and extra water for you pet, cash or traveler's checks and change, a fire extinguisher, matches and candle, and a non-cordless home phone." And here's the NYC's Office of Emergency Management's Go Bag instructions.

And is it mere coincidence that it's lightning safety week?
Photograph of lightning over Williamsburg by i'mjustsayin on Flickr