One Lone Crow Left 2,400 Residents in the Dark

October 11, 2016

By Steve Anderson - Contributing Writer

If ever we needed a reminder about the importance of backup power supplies, a recent story out of Everett, Washington should do the job. The residents of downtown Everett, along with the Waterfront district, lost power around 8:00 a.m., and it was all thanks to one crow.

The word notes that, at around 8:00 a.m., a crow—most likely misguided—flew into the equipment located at the top of a power pole in the downtown area. Upon contact with the equipment, it suffered a catastrophic failure, as did, in all likelihood, large portions of the crow's anatomy. The power was restored to the region subsequently, with some noting that such occurrences were normally squirrel-related as opposed to caused by crows.

Some area residents and businesses—this was the downtown area, after all—were likely prepared with backup power materials. Uninterruptable power supplies, for example, allow users that little extra bit of power to save work and safely shut down a device rather than having it all cut out mid-stream and cause the loss of however much work was generated since the last save. Some may have gone to larger-scale backup systems like deep cycle batteries, solar or wind power (this being Washington state, wind turbines might have done better than solar), or a fuel-based generator system like gasoline or natural gas.

Regardless of what backup system was used, we know full well that those who didn't use such systems likely lost a certain amount of work, especially as this outage hit at 8:00 a.m., when many businesses are opening for the day. While it's not immediately clear how long the power was out—word from the Snohomish County Public Utility District (PUD) Twitter (News - Alert) feed says the outage lasted about four hours, though power was restored to roughly 1,700 customers in about two hours—that's still a certain amount of work businesses either couldn't get done at all or could be done in a limping fashion. Travel agents can't check rates or book rooms, medical offices can't transmit or receive records, and a host of other points come into play.

Backup power systems of some kind are vital to the ongoing health and security of businesses. We all know how fragile the grid system is these days, and we've seen a host of small animals turn the grid into a dead space for at least a few hours. Having those power backup systems can help make the difference between work lost and work continued, and for most businesses, that can mean the continued health of the business as a whole.

Edited by Alicia Young