Thursday was Squirrel Appreciation Day and the bushy-tailed, nut-stealing rodents showed their gratitude to mankind by trying once again to take down our power grid.
While humans were busy celebrating national Squirrel Appreciation Day with funny videos and cute photos, the rodents themselves were busy disrupting power across the country and almost no one noticed.
The former Deputy Director of the National Security Agency, John C. Inglis, even described the squirrel threat as one of the greatest dangers facing mankind, according to the squirrel-tracking website Cyber Squirrel 1.
“I don’t think paralysis [of the electrical grid] is more likely by cyberattack than by natural disaster. And frankly the number-one threat experienced to date by the U.S. electrical grid is squirrels.”
The squirrel threat is real.
One brave website, Cyber Squirrel 1, has tracked the rodent assault on our power lines and created an interactive map listing some 623 power disruptions across the country caused by our furry acorn eating friends.
Using power lines, the furry rodents scurry from tree to tree and grabbing nuts to stash in their hideouts for the winter; but, all too often their plan goes horribly awry. The squirrel’s body is conveniently large enough to fit between the wires and other electrical pieces, causing a short circuit, which results in lost power and a fried squirrel. Often, their bodies are thrown free of the power lines ending the problem quickly, but sometimes the squirrels get stuck, causing the electrical circuit to burn out and the power grid to collapse.
Cyber Squirrel 1 uses data from Twitter to track squirrel sightings and then filters it through Google to create a map of destruction. Try changing the date parameters to track the path of chaos caused by the bushy tailed rodents yourself.
The squirrels have already attacked the power grid this year and residents can expect the onslaught to continue.
Saturday, Jan. 2 the town of Evansville, Indiana experienced the terror for themselves. A squirrel in the Slaughters sub station got too close to a transformer and 2,000 people lost power. Traffic on the Lloyd Expressway ground to a halt as every stop light on the thoroughfare went out.
The embattled residents were left in the dark for over an hour, according to Tristate News.
Then, only days later on Monday Jan. 4, the town of Wagoner, Oklahoma suffered a power outage when a squirrel attempted to travel from a live wire to a grounded wire and wound up shorting out the entire substation. Residents in the north and west portion of the city were without power for five hours, according to Tulsa World.
Squirrels were also responsible for January outages in Danbury, Kelowna, La Canada, on the University of Wisconsin campus and even the Vermont Statehouse.
Over the last year squirrels have caused more disruptions to our power grid than hackers, terrorists or enemy nations combined, according to a report from the Brookings Institute.
“Squirrels have taken down the power grid more times than the zero times that hackers have.”
The news gets worse: squirrels aren’t the only furry threat to our power grid.
Some 214 power disruptions last year were caused by birds, 52 by raccoons, 47 by snakes, 25 by rats and 9 from beavers.
Celebrate Squirrel Appreciation Day if you must, but remember the treacherous furry nut loving rodents are out to get your power.
[Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images]