It takes a lot to make the City that Never Sleeps stop in its tracks, but last night’s dazzling and terrifying light show managed to do it.
Around 9:15 last night, people from across the city began to report seeing unusual blue lights in the sky, and joked that an "alien invasion" was coming on social media as they waited for more news.
The actual explanation for the lights that turned the Big Apple bright blue was just as frightening: an electrical transformer at an Astoria, Queens power plant had exploded, and the resulting electrical fire burned white hot.
While the fire turned the sky a "mysterious" bright blue across much of New York and even parts of New Jersey, closer to the scene the link to the explosion was obvious - locals say it rattled their windows and sent people running out of their homes.
A spokesperson for Con Edison, the company that owns the plant, told NBC 4 that the explosion and resulting fire were an "abnormal event."
"It did create a spectacular effect on the sky, and certainly caused a lot of concern."
Nick Riccardo, who shared footage of the fire on Twitter, said the flames were so bright "I couldn’t look directly at it."
The transformer explosion in Astoria was... right outside my window. So bright I couldn’t look directly at it. pic.twitter.com/lsv5uHrENb— Nick Riccardo (@nickriccardo) December 28, 2018
Con Edison said the explosion interrupted local power flow, and both the local subway service and flights from LaGuardia Airport in Queens were interrupted because of the power shortages.
Even the nearby Rikers Island prison was forced to rely on backup generators until power was restored.
The NYPD’s 114th precinct later tweeted that the explosion was caused by an equipment malfunction, and is considered non-suspicious.
The day after the explosion, there are no lingering interruptions and power is restored throughout the city.
All in all, the light show turned out to be much less exciting than it seemed. As the NYPD summed up the emergency on Twitter, "No injuries, no fire, no evidence of extraterrestrial activity."