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Lightning strikes transformer

Lightning struck a transformer at S. Main and South Street Friday morning, February 24.

Lightning struck a transformer at S. Main and South Street Friday morning, February 24.

A piece of transformer on the ground after the lightning strike. Courtesy photo.

A piece of transformer on the ground after the lightning strike. Courtesy photo.

By Judy Reed

A lightning strike on Friday morning, February 24, was a narrow miss for a woman and her sister and left a handful of residents without power for about 25 minutes.

According to the woman, N. Green, she and her sister were driving back home to Cedar Springs and ran into a storm front that included lightning and downpours on M57. When they started to turn on to South Street off S. Main St. (where the self car wash is located) they heard a deafening boom that she said left their ears ringing. “The van was then covered with electric arcs which looked like fireworks raining down on us,” she said.

They pulled into the car-wash parking lot and saw the transformer on the utility pole was still smoking from the strike, although the rain put it out quickly. “We were directly next to the utility pole that was hit, driving on South St., which is a gravel road, then full of puddles, and so very blessed that the tires beneath us, grounded us against the electric arcs!” she said. “We were fine, though the van showed some markings.”

Green said the car wash still had power, but when they arrived home, a short distance away, they did not have power, nor did their neighbors.

Green said she called Consumers Energy to report it.

“I was impressed with how quickly they got the power back on,” she said.

According to Roger Morgenstern, spokesman for Consumers Energy, lightning struck a transformer (the cylindrical piece of equipment on a pole that reduces voltage before its sent to customers) and power was out between 9:19 a.m. and 9:44 a.m. for less than 20 customers.

Morganstern said what Green saw raining down like fireworks was likely sparks from the transformer fire instead of actual electrical arcs. However, if the car had become entangled in a downed power line, the rubber tires would’ve helped stop the flow of electricity.

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