Skip to comments.Derecho storm -- a taste of grid-down
Posted on 07/05/2012 5:09:44 PM PDT by Kartographer
My observations will be preaching to the choir in this forum but here goes: · Gasoline was gone within 24 hours. Lines were just like the 1970s fuel embargo. · Ice became the chief commodity and was in short supply or no supply. · Water was out for most people at least for the first two days. · Most big box stores and gas stations were up on generator power by day three. · A new shipment of 250 generators was sold in a few hours. · Temperatures in the high 90s added another layer of difficulty.
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I don't think you'll need to ping the zombie-apocalypse types. they can smell a thread like this.
As Newt said, this unfortunate situation is just the merest hint of what it will be like after an EMP attack.
Prepare for that eventuality and something like the last week will relatively easy to survive.
A Virginian by birth and most of my life... Now live in Alabama. I have NEVER, in my 52 years, witnessed a storm such as the “derecho”! (Our family was home for the 60th wedding anniversary of my husband’s parents.)
Some of our family just got their electric power back today. Living in the country, they had access to water and ample supply of food staples. Too bad for the deer meat in the freezers... except for those who had generators. Ice was a scarce commodity.
Regarding neighborly kindness, my husband, sons, brothers-in-law, and nephews helped clear neighbors’ yards of fallen trees the morning after the storm. My job, according to my 81-year-old father-in-law was to keep the “coffee perkin’” in our camp percolator!
Thank you, God, for your many blessings!
Most common response I hear when I bring this up?
Aww, that will never happen here!
I point out that we kept a hurricane kit ready in FL (and used it following the Wilmacane) just in case.
Oh, pshaw, don’t stress, there will be plenty of everything. Heck if we run out the government will be there to help.
Back in 1975 we survived the Ice Storm here in Central IL. Our small town went 10 days without gas, electricity, running water, etc. Nobody had a generator, everybody helped those who needed it. Knowing how to use one and my dad having one, I volunteered to cut downed trees from power lines and helped the cops patrol at night. The only grocery store in town opened up and led folks who needed food around inside with flashlights until the food was gone; taking anything from promises to cash in payment. Only help we got from the government? National Guard brought in a huge water trailer. I’ll count on friends and neighbors first and any, or all, government helpers last. Experience is a hard teacher but you will learn the lessons or you won’t survive.
"But we still don't understand why you want to prep."
Hmmm.....May be time for a thread on gensets. Yeah, we don’t like to think of the noise and issues with attracting attention in a long term power loss, but in the short term~
We've had two of them in Virginia this year, one earlier this Spring.
What has happened is they've given a well known type of storm a special name (about 1888 according to an article on the internet).
My power went out for 10 seconds. Gas didn’t change at all here.
Been running some speed checks on the Internet. Before the storms in VA & MD, it had been smoking. Now it’s dragging. I suspect the slowness may be in re-routing caused by inop server farms.
Anyone else on the East Coast experiencing the slow Internet speeds?
I live in a hard-hit area. It was interesting in a variety of ways. I learned some things.
First, there was very little warning. For hurricanes and even tornados, you get a little warning. I also have alerts sent to my cell phone and computer. In the summer in the DC area we are continually getting “severe thunderstorm warning” alerts, and the warnings start to sound like the Boy Who Cried Wolf. On this occasion the dog warned me that this was not a joke. I had five minutes between the time there was a slight spattering of rain and the time there was a terrible, tornado-like roaring noise overhead.
Second, I’m glad I had supplies of canned food, water, toiletries, medications, gas, horse feed, propane, and other goods, because the next day the supermarkets couldn’t process payments, ATMS were out of cash, banks were closed, the gas stations ran out of gas, and stores that had no electricity couldn’t even handle cash transactions.
Third, even if I had a generator, it wouldn’t do much good, since I couldn’t have stored enough gas or diesel to keep it running very long. Best just to get used to life without electricity.
Fourth, the rabbit my son got tasted great.
We were okay. It is AMAZING how much work you can get done if you’re not able to Freep for several days!
Not just gensets, Sarajevo, but I think a look at alternate power sources might be in order. And to reduce generator signatures.
I think I’ll do some digging...
I've been told that friends in VA may not get power until next week. Some people are helping get trees cut up and out of the way but some are still sitting on their lazy behinds waiting for Hussein to save the day. I still don't have the purple unicorn I was promised from him four years ago so they'll be waiting a long, long time.
Hey, GW1, what sites do you use for speed checks? I’m interested in finding reliable ones.
Generators are noisy, expensive and dangerous. People kill themselves with generators even in good times. I started to get one to protect the food in my fridge and freezer, until I did the math. The generator costs more than it would to replace all the food.
My plan now is to use solar to generate enough power for a few lights, fans, and small appliances. Possibly a small fridge to make ice and store some food. Of course that takes a bank of batteries and panels on the roof.
“What has happened is they’ve given a well known type of storm a special name (about 1888 according to an article on the internet).”
I’d heard the term “derecho” as far back as the 1980s (tornado geek that I was)...but for most of my life fast-moving line thunderstorms like that were just known as “squall lines”. Is there any actual difference between the two?
I’m using an app on an iPad called Speed Test, by Ookla. There are several good apps avail. This one correlates faithfully to what I observe firsthand on the device I’m using, so I’ve learned to trust it.
Right now, I’m in NC. Normally the site “pinged” would be in Wilson, NC. For some reason lately it’s been pinging Richmond, which is a bit unusual.
We were without power for 10 days when hurricane Ike hit Ohio in 2008.
We survived on a generator, on and off, and were just fine.
Americans have become a bunch of wusses.
One thing I can personally speak for... Computers+no power=dead weight.
I work in IT at a hospital. We recently had a power station issue that caused a multi-hour blackout. That’s ok... We have generators for that, right? Well, the generator our datacenter was attached to malfunctioned. We were screwed! It was truly a sinking feeling standing there watching those UPSs run out with the servers shutting down. Sure does get the room quiet in a hurry, except for all the damn beeping. lol
What was so funny is the power plans for our hospital must have been made back when computers were more of a luxury, because our datacenter was configured as being “low priority”. Was hilarious to have the place melting down, yet you could walk past the closed down cafeteria/kitchen and hear them listening to the radio, ect. LOL
Which is one of the reasons why I mentioned alternate power.
The Bride and I are going to retrofit our well water pump with a solar array dedicated just for it. We’re also in the debate phase of another solar panel bank dedicated to communications, ie. phone chargers, a police scanner, and a CB base station.
I can see where your situation might preclude a genset, but there are others who might benefit from the pros and cons of a discussion, especially the cost effectiveness.
Your area of B-burg was apparently spared because Giles, Craig, Roanoke, Botetourt, Alleghany Counties were hit HARD.
I’ve been using Speakeasy, out of the server in Atlanta. If there was one farther south, I’d take advantage of it.
How’s the speed?
The speed results are mixed; download speed is less than 0.9 mbps, upload speed approaching 5.0 mbps. I admit that I’m operating a WiFi router in the house and not a Cat-6 wire, but I do wish the numbers were higher.
Moat of my coworkers got power back today. We just had a good block for the wind
Most of my coworkers got power back today. We just had a good block for the wind
“but there are others who might benefit from the pros and cons of a discussion, especially the cost effectiveness.”
Absolutely, there are several options and it gets pretty complicated. I plan to use power inverters as well but they are very inefficient. I was surprised at how expensive solar is, especially when you want to store the power. Not many other options though from what I can see.
Do the math on the starting load for a refrigerator compressor. Next, compare that to the cost of the batteries plus the number of panels required to generate the power to charge the battery bank that is capable of overcoming the compressor starting load. Throw in a few cloudy days when the panels don’t generate power and the ROI shifts considerably negative for ice-making and food storage.
Your non-generator “solution” only eliminates noise. There is plenty of expense and the dangers just take a different form when choosing batteries/solar over the generator.
I’ve done the math, which is why I still don’t have it. There really isn’t a great solution that I’ve found, probably why fossil fuels are still so popular. However the noise is a big deal for me. When the power goes out it gets extremely quiet and generators can be heard from a long way off. I’d prefer to avoid that attention even for hurricane response.
I’ve considered just supporting a very small fridge to reduce the cost. Part of my drive is the possibility it may be needed to preserve medicines.
I live in Florida, so while there are cloudy days, we do pretty well on the sunshine scale.
Do you have any other ideas?
My power went out Friday night and didn’t get back on until Tuesday evening, slightly less than four days. Fortunately the outages were patchwork enough that I could get food and gas (and a hotel room) without driving too far. But, yes, it was a taste of grid-down and I was thinking about that the whole time.
Without electricity, mobility and communications, your world shrinks to an incredibly small area. A little bit worse for a little longer and things would have been really bad.
i’ve been seeing an ad for a new tv show that seems to be a prepper’s dream. Can’t think of the name of it, now.
Every time I empty a usable 1-gallon jug (dist. water, etc.) I fill it with drinking water, mark it, and stash it. Every time I go to town, I buy a couple of packages of the foil-wrapped salmon, a couple of cans of sauerkraut, and a couple of boxes of tea over and above my usual groceries.
oh no...people in the Deep South know nothing about being without power for days, or storms that last for days...
For speed checks I use Speedtest.net (http://speedtest.net/index.php)
You can choose any server on their map and check your speed on more than one.
First, there was very little warning. For hurricanes and even tornados, you get a little warning. I also have alerts sent to my cell phone and computer. In the summer in the DC area we are continually getting severe thunderstorm warning alerts, and the warnings start to sound like the Boy Who Cried Wolf. On this occasion the dog warned me that this was not a joke. I had five minutes between the time there was a slight spattering of rain and the time there was a terrible, tornado-like roaring noise overhead.
Im glad you are doing OK and were prepared. Im with you on the severe thunderstorm warnings. Sometimes they and the Doppler detected tornado warnings seem like overkill and often amount to little or nothing but its a damned if they do, damned if they dont situation. But you are right, there didnt seem to be much warning with this one. I live in south central PA and just on the northern edge of that storm. We didnt have it so bad here, some wind but not too bad but the lightning was incredible, like strobe lights, like the big finale of a fireworks show only all over the sky. But I have friends in the Baltimore area, some who were as of yesterday still without power; some didnt have water for several days either. I also find it amazing that people around here, including the Baltimore/DC area will run to the store over a forecast of an 2 of snow, stocking up like crazy at the last minute on anything and everything like its the end of the world but dont seem to have any plan in place or supplies on hand for other emergency situations.
Friday on my way home from work and listening to the radio, even the AM station out of Baltimore there didnt seem to be any forecast of severe storms. But after I got home, I had to run back out to the store about an hour later and the car radio was a din of constant crackling, like the sound of several hundred children popping sheets of bubble wrap all at the same time. I knew something really big and nasty was on its way. I remember as a kid before all the 24-7 weather warnings, Doppler radar, a good way to tell if a bad thunderstorm was on its way, was to turn on the AM radio and listen for the static.
I recall a storm similar to this in the early 90s when I lived in Baltimore, although not nearly as bad but still a wicked storm. My husky and my cat started acting weird a good hour or more before I saw the first hints of lighting far in the distance. The dog started walking around in circles and panting and crawled under the coffee table after she figured out she couldnt get under the couch and the cat suddenly jumped off the couch and slinked low to the floor and disappeared under the bed and I dont think he came back out until the next morning. When the storm got closer, I had to open the hall closet to let the dog in; it was her favorite place to go during a thunderstorm and for a time I was in there with her.
I live in a rather small apartment now and dont have very much storage space but I never let my gas tank go below half full and always keep on hand some canned goods, several jugs of spring water, a small stash of emergency cash, fresh batteries, a portable radio, candles, matches and instant coffee because without coffee, Id go insane. As I found out last year during the tropical storm, my gas stove will still work even though I have to light it manually with a match so at least I can cook and boil water as long as the gas isnt turned off ;),
And fortunately my niece and her husband dont live very far away and her husband is a bit of a survivorman and a big fan of Cody Lundin. I was living with them and their 4 little kids, all 3 years old and under at the time, when we lost power for most of the night in the middle of a heat wave. He works for a commercial HVAC company has some sort of electric power converter on his diesel work truck that he was able to run a really big extension cord from and we had enough power to run two big fans, a light and the TV (a very big deal with 4 restless, hot, cranky toddlers in the house). That and he had several LED lanterns including the type you can hand crank to recharge. Their house looked like a bright sunny oasis on an otherwise dark street. A few neighbors even came over to find out how come we had power when they didnt LOL.
Saturday its the temps are forecast to go over 100 here and a strong cool front is supposed to move through late in the day or evening so I can see the potential for severe storms. I have a trip planned to visit my uncle who lives above Lebanon PA on Saturday but Im going to keep an eye on the weather. I dont want to be caught on the road in a severe storm, especially at night.
I am also very familiar with weather in the Deep South having lived there for quite some time, and over the years I've made numerous trips there. Ever see the cotton just as it busts through the boll ~ miles of it in MIssissippi ~ many Southerners who live in cities all the time have no idea what that looks like.
And living without electricity? I"ve even escaped one of those pop up Southern Appalachian thunder storms that tosses lightning everywhere. Almost caught me with a rifle in my hands, steel helmet on my head, and standing in the middle of a training area path lined with shell casings. Now that can wake you up ~ we had a good 30 men in our training company get burned or messed up in that storm.
Not me, toss steel, run down hill, into ditch. Get low. Real low.
Now that wasn't a derecho but it was impressive.
Americans have become a bunch of wusses.”
You are right about that. I grew up on a farm with an outhouse, lanterns at night and a wood burning cook stove. We carried a bucket of water from the well 1/2 mile away every morning so we could have drinking water. All the other water we used was in a cistern which we filled once a year with water hauled in by truck, heat was from an oil furnace. Even though many things were rationed during the war, food was plentiful, we had chickens, a huge garden, cows and beef cattle for butchering.
I know both lives and quite frankly, my life is a whole lot easier now. But at least I know the how to of the other lifestyle if need be - although I’m not real sure I have the stomach any more to actually wring a chicken’s neck and pop its head off or slit a pig’s throat so we could butcher. Most people haven’t a clue, particularly if they are under 50. As more and more people moved to the city they lost the ability and resources necessary for independent sustainability. In a few more years there won’t be anyone left around to teach these skills.
This may sound naive, but I’ve considered a RV fridge - a small one with small freezer compartment - that runs off of both electric and propane. Most people don’t ping to seeing propane at a persons home because many grills use it now. You can store it, it’s versatile - I already have a small cooking range set for LP - and comes in many different sized containers. It’s discrete and common.
Those little fridges cost less than most small generators - and the thing most people REALLY use the gens for is fridge/freezer.
Yeah, that one had me laughing too
You just never know what's down there, and if it's harmful to structures you just build foundations and no basements.
Add to that this part of the world has been stretched thin as the North American Plate pulled away from the African Plate you might find it getting hotter going deeper ~
One of those derechos hit Central NY many years ago.
They are unbelievable in the scope of their destruction.
It was years before the demage to the trees wasn’t blindingly obvious.
***Derecho storm — a taste of grid-down warning. ***
Sounds like the weather prognosticators are working overtime to find new words to frighten the public.
Remember the first fears of...EL NINO (Weather change)!
Now we got ....HABOOBS(Dust storms). Last time I used a word like that I almost got my face slapped.
And the newest word to be pulled out of the dust bin of history is...DERECHO (Rain storm)!
Remember NBC’s attempt to replace “Thunderstorm” with “THORM” a few years ago? Went over like a lead balloon.
The word “Derecho” sets off my spell checker.
You said you had propane. Get yourself a tri-fuel (gasoline/propane/NG) kit for a generator...about $200....problem solved.
My area of North Central WV was hard hit also. Made it through just fine. Was even able to help a couple of neighbors preserve refrigeration and run well pumps etc. We didn't even lose milk in our fridges. (I just got tired of pushing that generator around)
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