Nighttime Transformer Explosions in Fort Worth, Texas


Have you seen this video? If not, stop what you’re doing right now and watch. Amazing. Tragic, but amazing. From the Youtube site of user Brian Luenser, who recorded and posted the video:

This is the aftermath of a pretty brutal thunderstorm in Fort Worth Texas on May 10, 2011. It was taken from my balcony on the 34th floor of a building in Fort Worth. Though I thought we were at war or was terrorism, it was a massive series of downed 7,200 volt power lines. As I took it with my 70-200 2.8L IS lens, it is farther away than it looks. (it is 5 miles away) That is why there are not explosion sounds. This was a very well documented event. I was on my balcony to take lightning pictures (Yes, not smart) and this started happening in front of me. I turned my camera (Canon 5d MkII) to video mode and let it roll.

Crazy. There’s a bit more about the video there and the way it was recorded, too. The colors are absolutely beautiful. Almost unbelievable. ¬†Explosions in the distance look like the explosions of war.

Watch, totally worth it:

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  1. Jim, thanks for this, 5 miles in humid air is not that far for sound to travel. Why is there no sound?

  2. There is “no sound” because of attenuation over distance. Let’s assume that the noise produced by one of the explosions is 130dB at one meter. Over 5 miles, the resulting SPL is just 51dB. This is well below the apparent noise from area around the camera. If you listen closely, you actually can hear some noises from other systems’ relays clattering as the line voltage drops and surges. These relays are likely much closer to the photographer.

  3. I agree, there is little if anything that makes sense here. A few points to consider: 1: Explosions are loud percussive events, that can be heard and felt for many miles. Birds and Dogs would be very stressed. But dogs are silent & birds are happily singing to what they think is the sun, with cheer. 2: Transformers carry power, the city hasn’t lost power to any areas. 3: Transformers are all connected, when they blow, it’s all over very quickly and they stay blown, not keep exploding on and and still produce power to the entire city. 4: What exactly is at that site? 5: How many injuries and fatalities? 6: Vehicular traffic very near the site of explosions is not even a little disrupted; no one is pulling over, stopping, none of the behaviours you’d expect to see as a normal response to such massive explosions. They’re driving as though it’s a lightning show in the distance and they can’t hear or feel any thunder/sound. This is odd.

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