Authorities explain flashes of light in Washtenaw County skies Tuesday night
Hassan Hodges | AnnArbor.com
The cause: Tree limbs falling on live power lines.
The freezing rain and heavy snow the storm brought coated power lines as well as tree limbs. When falling wet tree limbs come into contact with live power lines, there's a resulting clear flash and a loud noise, said Pittsfield Township Fire Chief Sean Gleason.
"It's a pretty common thing, "Gleason said. "This weather is the worst for power lines."
Typically, the flashes of light are a clear flash, but sometimes they can be green or yellow, Gleason said.
"To some people, it looks like lightning," Gleason said.
The assault on the system created by the contact between the tree branch and power line creates the flash, said Len Singer, spokesman for DTE Energy.
"There's a lot of voltage going on those lines," Singer said. "The fault in the system that would cause that line to go out would create a flash in the dark sky."
The storm left 14,000 DTE Energy customers without power in Washtenaw County and 30,000 powerless in southeast Michigan. Crews were assessing the extent of the damage Wednesday morning, Singer said, and would have an estimated time of restoration by mid-Wednesday.