243-Foot Military Blimp Down in Pennsylvania, Causing Power Outages

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Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System (JLENS) personnel oversee the inflation of an aerostat at Aberdeen Proving Ground, in Maryland on December 15, 2014. Sgt. Ronald Sellinger/U.S. Army/Department of Defense

Pennsylvania State Police secured a 243-foot long military blimp after it came down near Muncy, Pennsylvania on Wednesday afternoon.

The blimp broke free from its moring at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland around noon and floated through the clouds for several hours, where it posed an air traffic issue.

Here is the #blimp well part of it...in a tree near Muncy @WNEP pic.twitter.com/epkaSuFsxj

— Nikki Krize (@NikkiKrize) October 28, 2015

There were about 6,700 feet of tethering cable attached to the free-floating blimp. The tethering posed a threat to power lines, leading to power outages for about 21,000 people in Central Pennsylvania.

21,000 PPL customers without power in E Ctrl PA, possibly because of balloon landing. #PJM https://t.co/0ob5xlg9i6 pic.twitter.com/xhNTXzDMuD

— Devin Boyer (@wxdevin) October 28, 2015

The blimp caused trouble in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania as well, cutting power at Columbia-Montour Area Vocational-Technical School, according to a student. Bloomsburg University also lost power.

@ABC @GMA Landed in bloomsburg right by my school. Knocked out the power at CMVT. pic.twitter.com/WLJydKVf2I

— Fisher P. Creasy (@FPCreasy) October 28, 2015

Also known as a Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System (JLENS) or aerostat, the blimp "provides national command authorities with increased situational awareness and early warning detection against possible threats," according to the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance.

I should know better by now, but even I still have trouble believing that "runaway surveillance blimp" is actually a thing.

— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) October 28, 2015

Those who saw the blimp before it went down were asked to stay away from it and call 911.

The blimp from @USAGAPG has come off its tether. If you see it on the ground, call 911. Here's what it looks like. pic.twitter.com/mRHhpJdfHU

— Joppa-Magnolia VFC (@jmvfc8) October 28, 2015

It remains unclear how the blimp escaped its moring.