Annapolis mystery solved: NHL brownout caused by wind and slow-starting lights


It wasn’t the Russians, at least.

About half the lights went out during the third period of Saturday’s NHL Coors Light Stadium Series, played outdoors on the field of Navy Marine-Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis.

Swamped with restoring power to hundreds of thousands of customers affected by dangerous winds that blew through Friday night, BGE officials weren’t immediately able to explain what happened. Neither were Naval Academy Athletic Association officials.

Monday, however, the culprit was clear: athletics spokesman Scott Strasemeier said a split-second power reduction knocked out the lights, which take a while to restart. BGE said the power problem was caused by the windstorm and Bill Givens, associate athletic director for operations and championships, said the stadium uses metal halide lights that need to cool off before they're turned back on.

The lights cut out at the 10-minute mark in the third period, and it took about 16 minutes to get them up and running again.

Gusts of wind — the tail end of the nor’easter that knocked out power to 30,000 Anne Arundel County residents alone — caused an electric circuit in the area to go out, which caused a voltage reduction at the electric circuit that serves the stadium, BGE spokesman Richard Yost said.

That split-second dip was enough to make the lights go off.

Unfortunately, it was more than a split-second before the stadium lights came back on.

The National Lighting Product Information Program says metal halide lights need time to cool down after shutting off before they can light up again.

It doesn't matter that the lights went off accidentally because of a drop in power that lasted less than a second — they still needed time to cool down before they could be restruck.

Typically that takes about 13, 14 or 15 minutes, Givens said, and that is in line with what fans saw Saturday.

A lighting company out of Pasadena completed a pre-event check, Givens said, and the Naval Academy Athletic Association had electricians on site.

BGE inspected all its circuits and equipment directly serving the stadium in the week prior to the game, Yost said. A technician was also on standby to respond to the problem — standard practice for all major events.

But some things can’t be controlled.

The storm that whipped through the region Thursday, Friday and Saturday packed gusts up to 75 mph. As of Monday at 4 p.m., BGE had worked to restore power to 367,504 customers in Maryland, and 48,997 in Anne Arundel.

“We regret the interruption to the game and thank the fans for their understanding,” Yost said.

Staff writer Bill Wagner contributed to this report.

This story has been updated to correct the name of the game played Saturday at Navy stadium.

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