Dazzling Moment an Electrical Fault Caused a Huge ‘Plasma Arc’ That Turned the New York Skyline an Intense Blue – Grounding Planes, Shutting Out Power and Causing City-wide Confusion

New York City’s electric utility Con Edison this morning sought to shed some light on an eerie flash of blue light that illuminated the night sky on Thursday, revealing that it was due to a phenomenon similar to lightning known as an ‘electrical arc’.

Con Edison said in a previous statement that a common transformer explosion at a substation in Astoria was responsible for illuminating the skies over New York a dazzling shade of blue.

In a follow-up statement released early Friday morning, the utility said that an electrical fault in equipment that carries 138,000 volts of electricity 20 feet up in the air at one section of the Astoria East and North Queens power plant caused ‘a sustained electrical arc flash.’

Strange Glow Over New York

An electrical arc is a visible plasma discharge between two electrodes – the one from which the current originates called the cathode and the one toward which electrons flow called the anode – that is caused by electrical current ionizing gasses in the air.

Controlled electrical arcs have many industrial and commercial applications, including in welding, plasma cutting, and heating.

Con Edison spokesman Bob McGee compared the electrical arc to a thunder and lightning event in nature and said that it subsided on its own within minutes.

Light Grounds Plane Cuts Out Power

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