Attention, terrorists — here’s a cheap and easy way to disrupt the electrical grid:
One small balloon caused big problems this morning on Santa Clara Avenue in San Mateo County.
A helium-filled Mylar balloon floated into power lines and caused a 75-minute-long blackout that affected 1,100 customers, according to PG&E spokesman Paul Moreno.
Mylar balloons spell trouble for power lines for one simple reason, Moreno said: They’re coated in metal.
“Metallic balloons conduct electricity,” Moreno explained. “If they get between wires they can act as a bridge, so electricity jumps from one wire to the other. If the system detects such an irregularity, it’s programmed to shut down.”
Attention, Hallmark Gold Crown Store managers: be on the lookout for swarthy, Middle Eastern men buying balloons.