Strange Lights Seen Over New York City Explained

Con Edison says an issue at a substation in Astoria, Queens, caused an electrical arc that light up the night sky Thursday over New York City.

The utility company says the arc, which occurred shortly after 9 p.m. at the Astoria East and North Queens Con Edison plant, resulted in scattered power outages and caused some flights to be delayed, ABC 7 New York reports

The lights were not a transformer explosion, as was initially reported. Con Edison elaborated in a statement Friday morning.

"The electrical fault on the 138,000-volt equipment caused a sustained electrical arc flash that was visible across a wide area. The affected equipment was isolated to a single section within the substation."

Indeed, the arc in Queens was clearly visible more than 17 miles away, across the Hudson River in Jersey City, NJ.

Electrical arcs that occur naturally are called lightning. 

Amazingly, despite numerous 911 calls and reports of an explosion and a fire in the Long Island City and Astoria areas, there was no electrical fire associated with the incident.

Con Ed says FDNY never had to enter the Astoria facility.

Laguardia Airport and Rikers Island Prison both switched to on-site backup generators after the incident. 

The 7 train was also disrupted, as service was suspended between 74 St-Broadway and Flushing-Main Street in both directions. 

Photo: Instagram / anush.prabhu

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