Green Garter Snake

A green garter snake peeks out from a naturalist's hand in this Associated Press file photo.

A power outage that left 4,000 Newarkers in the dark over the weekend was caused by an unlikely culprit: a snake.

The snake somehow got into a transformer on Saturday, causing it to malfunction, City Manager Tom Coleman explained at Monday’s council meeting.

Squirrels have wreaked havoc with the city’s electric grid and surveillance cameras in the past, but this apparently was the first time a snake has been at fault.

“We’re looking into snake-proofing the substation somehow. Not sure if that’s a thing, but we’re looking into it because we don’t want that to happen again,” Coleman said.

The outage – which was not connected to the lengthier outage at Villa Belmont – was resolved in about an hour, he added.

News of the snake’s involvement provided some moments of levity at Monday’s meeting.

Councilman Chris Hamilton asked what kind of snake it was.

“A dead one,” Councilman Stu Markham deadpanned.

“Clearly, he was a civil serpent,” Mayor Jerry Clifton quipped.

Hamilton mentioned a recent news story about a slug that caused a power outage that shut down train traffic in Japan.

“Watch out folks, the animals are coming after us,” he joked.

(1) comment


Good job by Electric Dept restoring power on a hot summer night. Good for the Reliability Index, too.

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