A planned test of the air raid siren on Queen Anne Hill and the silence of all radio stations did little to calm Seattle citizens. Commuters were stalled in unheated electric trackless-trolleys and elevators were trapped between floors. Outages lasted from a few minutes to several hours.
The balloon short-circuited transmission lines of Seattle City Light and Puget Sound Power and Light, then traveled westward and settled on the waters of Puget Sound off Richmond Beach. According to Second Interceptor Command, the balloon was being tested "somewhere in the Pacific Northwest." Other balloons got loose on February 2, 1942. One landed at Fort Lawton and another came down near Boeing Field, but there was no damage.
Helium filled barrage balloons were tethered by U.S. Army air defense units around targets of air attack. Defenders expected that the balloons and their trailing cables would force enemy aircraft to fly at higher altitudes and interfere with their ability to drop bombs.
Following this incident, Seattle City Light launched a publicity campaign to discourage children from playing with toy balloons near power lines.