On Wednesday, a cautionary prediction. On Saturday, the very thing that was warned against.
Fallows! I still remember the piece you wrote about PEPCO and their horrible service. It was exquisite. Maybe you could follow up with a detailed examination of the entire country's antiquated, patchwork electrical supply non-system. Ever since 1958 I have been telling everyone the electricity issue should be given the same weight as all other national security necessities. These days, without electricity, we are powerless. (No pun intended.) Dead in the water. Keep up the good work, you lucky fellow.
A month ago Tulsa had straight-line winds of 100 mph that destroyed trees and knocked out power for several hundred thousand people for 5-7 days. No national news coverage. Virtually no mention in media outside of Oklahoma. If it doesn't happen on the coasts or in Texas - it apparently doesn't get covered. There was a gas shortage and no generators to be had. I'll bet former US Senator and climate change denier Jim Inhofe had a generator.
Reading through the various campaign statements of the Republican challengers as they travel across Iowa, most emphasized defunding the EPA, cutting back on or totally nullifying any climate promises made by the current President, and opening more oil pipelines. Nice to know that these people look at the world around them and see only big monied interests. "Lord, what fools these Mortals be?"
Jim, FYI (off topic)
Except for those of us who have experienced the thrill of an in flight electrical system differential fault resulting in a (temporary, fortunately) loss of all electrical power at night, (the dreaded 6 light trip, to excite the old B727 pilots among us), the required flashlight in the kit bags of some airline pilots had become more of a dead battery receptacle. Technology tended to make us complacent if we let it. But we, most of us, learned to kept 'em in ready fashion, fortunately. I remember the Delta accident at DFW. Ten years earlier, in June of '75, Eastern flight 66, a B727 crashed short of the runway at JFK killing almost everybody. I remember seeing news reports that day with "officials" blaming the wreck on "pilot error". But NTSB later determined that a microburst caused windshear had been the cause, but added the caveat that the flight crew "had failed to recognize the severe weather hazard", and called that failure a contributing factor. Interestingly, the terms windshear, and downburst, were at the time all but unknown to most of us. The industry, with help and some heavy lifting by the FAA, the National Weather Service, the Airline Pilots Association and other interested parties quickly recovered the data from the EAL Flight Data and Cockpit Voice Recorders and built simulator scenarios duplicating all the data available, and got it programmed into flight simulators all over the world. For years, every semiannual trip to recurrent sim training included required instruction and evaluation on procedures to recognize and respond to wind shear phenomena, and specific non-intuitive changes were made to shear-emergency crew coordination and go-around procedures per aircraft type. For years afterwards it was ( and I hope still is) a staple of the airline training experience. The DAL accident pointed out that even with this new awareness across the industry, sometimes Mother Nature just is going to have her way. But the longer term safety record proves the essence of constructive inquiry based on known facts, and the willingness, at the time, of the industry to look inward to achieve the most essential goal whatever the cost.
Off topic, I realize, but I sure miss L-1011s.
Jim We were sailing in Long Island Sound in July 1949 when we heard that the Yankee game was interrupted by a tornado. We immediately went into our emergency drill: lowering sails and setting a tiny steadying jib.
When a tremendous storm struck Long Island Sound, we were safe. A yawl near us sailed under with four passengers drowned. We picked up a number of sailors whose boats had capsized.
In addition to our often practiced emergency drill, we kept a huge set of shears handy to cut away rigging in the event of a broken mast.
As you underscore, be prepared for the unexpected, which occurs with considerable frequency.
Living in Northern California, with a primary residence in the Bay Area and a second home high in the Sierra, we are accustomed to frequent power failures - but the length and frequency of them has increased dramatically in recent years. PG&E shuts our power off preemptively, unburied lines are extremely vulnerable to wind and snow, and extreme weather brings our massive trees down like matchsticks. Our preparations now include LED headlamps (much better than flashlights!) with spare batteries, fully charged power bricks for electronics (those are also a must for relaxed traveling - you won't find me in search of an outlet at an airport!), and a multipurpose battery charger, typically capable of jumping cars as well as charging devices, some can even run appliances. We also have our servers and a/v equipment plugged into a UPS, so that we have time to shut them down and prevent damage. I'm glad I have not upgraded my gas cooktops to electric (yet) but when I do I will be sure to keep a camp stove and fuel for it handy as well. Four days without power feels like a very long time. Oh - and never run your car's fuel down to empty! Nice to be able to leave if you can.
My community (in west Michigan) was built in the early 2000s, and the electric lines are buried. So far (knock on wood) we haven't had any power outages (I've been here 5 years). But then we haven't had the sort of storm you just experienced either. At some point the damage will extend farther up the line and large areas - including my neighborhood - will experience outages.
These storms are worsening due to climate change, which is caused by burning fossil fuels. Economically & politically, we are in a "perfect storm" (forgive the metaphor) of corporate interests that are in direct conflict with the obvious solution (stop burning fossil fuels - yesterday!), and the political infrastructure that exacerbates the problem and prevents us from changing. The upshot is the US continues to spend billions of dollars to support even more fossil fuel infrastructure and expansion while storms like this continue to devastate communities around the world - typically with huge losses of life and property damage.
I have to offer the classic admonishment from Dr. Suess:
"Unless someone like you cares a whole, awful lot - nothing is going to get better, it's not!"
I remember when a hurricane, I think it was Isabel, came through 20 or so years ago power in McLean, one of the richest suburbs in the country, was out for a week.
The library as a center of a disaster struck community is part of “Alas, Babylon” by Pat Frank.
I think Dave Dildine is the lead rush hour traffic reporter on WTOP radio. Sometimes fills in for tv traffic reporters.
As a friend says frequently, keep the beer (and the wine) chilled.