VIDEO: Massive Power Outages Near Annapolis

About 68,000 BGE customers in the county lost power Thursday night after blue and green lights filled the Anne Arundel skyline.

UPDATE (10 a.m. Friday)—More than 68,000 homes and businesses throughout Anne Arundel County lost power Thursday night after unexplained blue and green lights filled the skyline just before 9 p.m.

"We lost two of the main lines that feed into Annapolis and the surrounding areas," said Baltimore Gas and Electric's (BGE) spokesperson Rachael Lighty.

While there were still more than 1,600 BGE customers out of power in Anne Arundel County at about 6:30 a.m. Friday, nearly 67,000 customers had their power restored, according to BGE's online outage map.

By 10 a.m., the outage map showed only 359 customers without power and 68,340 with power restored.

"We do believe that we have located and isolated the issue," Lighty said early on Friday morning but couldn't say exactly what the issue was, only that crews would continue to work well into Friday.

"The vast majority of customers should be back in power early [Friday]," she said.

The outages were concentrated in the greater Annapolis area, but residents told Patch that lights flickered in communities as widespread as Severn, Odenton, Crofton and Bowie.

Residents posted photos and videos of the strange lights in the sky on social media Thursday night along with theories about their origin, but Lighty said BGE didn't yet know whether they were caused by a blown transformer.

"Right now it's too soon to tell," she said on Thursday night. "We are looking at equipment in the area. Sometimes customers will see a flash of light or hear a loud bang or a pop when a fuse switches."

Lighty said this is similar to when people blow a fuse in their home. BGE's fuses actually use gunpowder, but Lighty said they don't pose a threat to surrounding homes. It's actually a safety feature on that equipment, she said.

"I've never seen anything like this complete loss of power," said Annapolis Mayor Josh Cohen.

In a video shot by Edgewater resident Gus Baganz from a home overlooking the South River, residents reacted in shock as the blue and green lights filled the sky for about 30 seconds.  

Following the incident, rumors spread via social media that looting occurred in the Annapolis area.

Lt. Glenn Shanahan of the Anne Arundel County Police Department said Thursday night police received no reports of rioting or looting. However, the department sent additional officers to the Annapolis area to deal with traffic and related incidents, he added.

Annapolis police reported a liquor store was burglarized during the power outage at about 9:45 p.m. Thursday.

Many streets in the downtown area were dark and without functioning traffic signals, which made it difficult for drivers since it was also raining and there was already reduced visibility.

Lt. Keith Hamilton of the Anne Arundel County Fire Department said Thursday night that firefighters and paramedics responded to multiple alarms from Crownsville and Annapolis.

All schools Anne Arundel County Public Schools are open and operating on a normal schedule on Friday, according to the website.

Patch will continue to follow this story on Friday.

TELL US: What was your experience on Thursday night? Leave a comment to let us know.

Steve December 21, 2012 at 12:11 PM
I was standing outside the Annapolis mall when this happened. It was definitely a blown transformer. Then another one blew about a hundred yards away.
Susan Jenkins (Editor) December 21, 2012 at 12:27 PM
Patch editors were at a holiday celebration ... we'd actually put our phones away for a little while and suddenly I had a slew of missed calls and text messages. Luckily, we were at a restaurant adjacent to a hotel in the northern part of the county so we took over the business center to turn it into our own personal newsroom and went to work to find out what was happening!
Kristina December 21, 2012 at 12:30 PM
I was standing in my living room when I saw these flashes of light. I thought it was lightning at first, but then when I looked across the river, it was definitely coming from one area. I couldn't believe how it lit up the sky. Crazy & scary. Never seen anything like that!
John Holmes December 21, 2012 at 01:21 PM
You'd think Annapolis Mall, (as I refer to it), would have a backup generator with some emergency lighting ..... can't imagine it doesn't. I'll bet the cell phone flashlights came in handy! Happy Holidays everyone!
Edward Charles December 21, 2012 at 01:44 PM
It's all Dubya's fault. (humor, don't be hating....)
Concerned December 21, 2012 at 02:57 PM
I have lived in Annapolis for 15 years and it continues to amaze me how weak the power grid / infrastructure is here. Whenever the wind blows the power goes out. Residents in Anne Arundel county pay a high cost of living and the capital of Maryland can't even keep the lights on. In this case the leaders can't even tell you what caused the problem. You can't make this stuff up....incredible.
jerome waters December 21, 2012 at 03:01 PM
Gin December 21, 2012 at 03:23 PM
Video of Power outage phenomenon http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iNDBHbPFO9Q&feature=youtube_gdata_player
Gin December 21, 2012 at 03:27 PM
Video if power outage: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iNDBHbPFO9Q&feature=youtube_gdata_player
Trevor Gryffyn December 21, 2012 at 03:55 PM
I don't think this one was posted yet... a friend sent this to me this morning (he didn't take it) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MPN0wu9c25s
Trevor Gryffyn December 21, 2012 at 03:56 PM
Looks like they were at Dennys, so that means they would have been facing the direction of the mall, give or take. Someone had said "behind Kohls" at one point, but the mall seems more accurate.
D Stubler December 21, 2012 at 03:58 PM
Witnessed this driving home form the Annapolis Mall with my daughter. Spooky!
Mandy Johnson December 21, 2012 at 04:17 PM
Can't trust those aliens..always starting trouble.
Kat December 21, 2012 at 04:31 PM
Anything could happen ANY day - nothing to do with particular dates!!
Kat December 21, 2012 at 04:31 PM
And you have it on good authority that the End of the World is holding off until night, do you??
Kat December 21, 2012 at 04:32 PM
And don't forget to bring bucket of vodka orange :-)))
Kat December 21, 2012 at 04:34 PM
I agree - I recently moved over from Europe and I am baffled how bad infrastructure is over here
Larry December 21, 2012 at 05:27 PM
Interesting that these lights appear to be the same lights I've witnessed in Dallas, Texas; Albuquerque, New Mexico; always appearing in intense thunderstorms. I've no evidence but appear to be a man made phenomena, that is, H.A.A.R.P.. Ground becomes saturated with huge amounts of electricity and attempts to discharge into air. Appears now it can be controlled to knock out power plants.
la December 21, 2012 at 05:28 PM
That is exactly what happened.
Trevor Gryffyn December 21, 2012 at 06:12 PM
That's exactly what it was.
Concerned December 21, 2012 at 06:49 PM
Hey Brian, do you think The Patch can stay on this and get to the bottom about what caused this. It is odd that there has been no explanation about what the overall cause of this was. Thanks.
Concerned December 21, 2012 at 06:52 PM
I think BGE and Anne Arundel county or the State of Maryland owes the citizens an explanation about the root cause of the outage. It is unbelievable that there has been little information from anyone about this.
Safety first December 21, 2012 at 08:39 PM
My thought exactly. What Moron would tell his kids that?
Dave December 21, 2012 at 10:03 PM
You are crazy.
Dave December 21, 2012 at 10:04 PM
I measured around 10-15 Volt sag in power in Piney Orchard, but there was no outage.
scott bowlan December 21, 2012 at 10:12 PM
havent you been paying attention or have you been brainwashed by the media solar flares.
Sue Crandall December 21, 2012 at 11:27 PM
Aurora borealis? A wayward comet? Terrorists? Anti-terrorists? Magic? One thing is certain, those powers that be don't tell folks the truth anymore, so feel free to improvise.
lianne December 24, 2012 at 07:41 PM
We had the same thing happen in South Baltimore. Around like 10:30 there was a loud bang out side and everything went black. People were looking out their doors and all of south baltimore was black. People were starting to freak a little then there was another boom, turns out a transformer blew and the power kept going on and off for like an hour or so.
tom December 29, 2012 at 12:50 AM
What we generally attribute to a transformer blowing is more often a fuse blowing. They also make a loud bang. Bright flashes before the fuse blows is often caused by the uninsulated wires shorting against each other, usually because a tree limb fell against them. The resulting short circuit causes the fuse to blow, isolating the damaged area from other circuits until it can be repaired. I'm not asserting that was the case in this instance, but when you see a bright flash and hear a bang, don't automatically assume it's a transformer. Fortunately it's much quicker to replace a fuse than a transformer.
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