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Record Power Outage
#1
Last Wednesday (3/8/17) we had an enormous wind storm--gusts said to be up to 60 mph, but probably a few gusts to 80 mph, and it continued for most of the day. Some commentators described it as a tropical windstorm in Michigan! Lots of trees took out lots of power lines. Detroit Edison said their 800,000 customers without power, or approx. 1/3 of their 2.2 million customers in southeastern Michigan, was the largest weather-caused power outage in history. They had to call in linemen from five states, and they had to contend with fairly cold weather--in fact Friday night and Saturday we had extremely cold weather, down to 10°F. Our power went out Thurs. at 4 AM (my Mom said she remembered because that is when her electric blanket went out. We just got the power finally restored to our house about 4 PM on Saturday. Total length of our power outage was 60 hours. You know it is cold when every breath sends out a cloud of vapor.

Actually, for us it became serious, because my mother is 95, and she cannot stand the cold. She already has diabetic neuropathy, for which she has to take Gabapenten just to reduce the constant pain. We were becoming seriously concerned that she might develop hypothermia. Mom is pretty much a homebound person--she had only been out of the house twice in the past three and one half years. (She is afraid she might not make it down the 5 steps at the side entrance to the house, even with me holding her and being ready to catch her if her legs give way.) My next younger brother, Bill (also known as Wm here on AI-Jane), who lives nearby, offered to take us in until the power was restored. It was quite an operation, involving packing clothes, food items, wheelchair, walker, etc. But with the help of my brother and my sister, and my brother's wife, Geri, we got Mom into my car and into my brother's house. This made the third time my mother has been out of the house in 3½ years. The reason why Bill and Geri still had power is that in their neighborhood, all the electrical lines were buried--so none of them can be taken out by trees falling. Unfortunately, our neighborhood is older.

At the time of this writing, there are about 85K customers without power, but most of that original huge number have been restored. Detroit Edison deserves credit for getting so much work done to restore power, when its crews had to work in really cold temperatures early Saturday. Their main problem was dealing with fallen trees and branches that had brought down lines, so they had to deal with trees as well as wires. Sat. morning when we got up the temperature in my bedroom was 36.0° F, and still going down (the temperature outside was 10°). I decided not to go to church, so I could help my mother get to a warm refuge.

When the power came back on, it was sure a welcome relief. We waited awhile before returning home, so the temperature in the house could come back up (all those cold walls, floors, and ceilings, took a surprising length of time to bring back up to warm temperatures. I also found I had 66 emails waiting for me (since I had been unable to check my emails for three days).

I think the only power outtage that was worse was the big one where the power grid for the northeastern and northcentral U.S. got taken out about 15 years ago. But that was not so bad, because it was in the summer. Authorities then claimed that there was some kind of cascading effect caused by an initial failure of the power grid in Ohio. Some people suggested a surge in charged particles from the sun was a factor. But I still suspect terrorists may have been involved.

Whatever, Winter is by far the very worst time to have a power outage! You can die at 10° F when it is prolonged, even when you wear all kinds of warm clothing. Unfortunately, we do not have a fireplace in our house. I was able to go to a nearby Kroger store that still had power at least to get a break, but my mother could not get out so easy. Finally we knew we had to get her out, despite her reluctance to leave, or she was going to get hypothermia. Edison had said that the power would be restored by 11 PM the previous night--but it didn't happen. Still, like I said, DTE deserves credit for getting such a massive problem remedied so quickly. They reported that they had 5,000 workers from Michigan plus another 2,000 from surrounding states, working around the clock.
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#2
Sorry to hear all this Ron.  Unfortunately, I believe this is just the beginning of our problems.  Eastern, and Western Europe, along with Russia, China, Japan, and other Eastern areas have been hit the hardest.  Now it is also the Aussies and Kiwis down under.  

It was inevitable we would be next.  And we haven't even entered this Grand Solar Minimum yet.  Its going to get worse, I'm afraid.  You may need to get a couple of kerosene heaters before long, as just backup.  Or perhaps an electric generator.

We'll just have to wait and see how things shake out for the next year or so.  Its a good thing you have Bill nearby, who can help you.   S22
___________________________________________________________________________________________________
"INSIDE EVERY PROGRESSIVE IS A TOTALITARIAN SCREAMING TO GET OUT" - David Horowitz

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#3
Sorry you and your Mom had to go through that Ron.  We have a fireplace but I've still thought/worried about that situation a bit.  Last year I bought a "contingency" appliance for "just in case".  It works with a regular bbq style propane tank, but it's only safe that way if you have the tank outside so it can vent if it needs to.  If you use smaller camping style propane cylinders, this heater is safe for indoor use and has an oxygen depletion and tip over sensor.  I've used it in my garage a lot last year to make my garage puttering tolerable at or near 0 deg. F outside. The other thing I was considering is getting a transfer switch and small generator to run the furnace fan.  If you have a gas forced air furnace, most likely there will be plenty of pressure in the gas lines (as your neighbors probably won't be using it) in a power outage.  I'm thinking that a small 2KW generator would probably run the fan and can be had for a few hundred bucks and would not use a lot of gas.  The xfer switch should be put in by a qualified electrician for safety.  It allows you to isolate your homes circuits so a generator can be safely used.  The small inexpensive ones won't power all your stuff ... but would probably work just fine to back up your furnace without breaking the bank.

Haven't had to worry about it lately as it's one of the warmest Feb/March in state history at least here on the Front Range ... also very dry with no snow for many, many weeks.  Current outside humidity is about 4%.  I don't really want a power outage, but I'm getting to the point of looking forward to our next snow storm ... or even some rain.  All we've had is wind ... and a number of brush/grass fires.  The entire eastern portion of the state is red flagged right now.
"Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard."
-- Henry Mencken
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#4
Our next door neighbor has a generator. We heard it running for three days straight. It was pretty loud. At the time, I was really wishing that we had one. We had the warmest January and February ever, and March started out seeming like normal temperatures. But Saturday in the A.M. when it got down to 10° F, it was colder than at any time in Jan. or Feb.

We do have a gas-powered furnace (and stove and hot water heater). They are all electrically controlled. And the furnace fan of course requires electricity. We were able to heat water on the stove--just using an igniter like you would use to light a grill. A small electric generator to power the furnace might be a good idea. Hmm--in order to save food, we would also need for the generator to be able to power the refrigerator. Although if it is really cold outside, we could just put food in coolers and set them outside (like my brother-in-law did).
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#5
(03-12-2017, 08:33 PM)Ron Lambert Wrote: Our next door neighbor has a generator. We heard it running for three days straight. It was pretty loud. At the time, I was really wishing that we had one. We had the warmest January and February ever, and March started out seeming like normal temperatures. But Saturday in the A.M. when it got down to 10° F, it was colder than at any time in Jan. or Feb.

We do have a gas-powered furnace (and stove and hot water heater). They are all electrically controlled. And the furnace fan of course requires electricity. We were able to heat water on the stove--just using an igniter like you would use to light a grill. A small electric generator to power the furnace might be a good idea. Hmm--in order to save food, we would also need for the generator to be able to power the refrigerator. Although if it is really cold outside, we could just put food in coolers and set them outside (like my brother-in-law did).

Ron, first off, I believe you really do need to get a generator.  They can literally save the week.  Also, newer ones are not very loud.  And too, having it enclosed and baffled makes them very quiet.  

Also, I did tell you it was coming, right?  Mother Nature was just too busy tearing Europe and Asia a new asshole first.  We were just got lucky.  Welcome to the upcoming Grand Solar Minimum.  

I'm afraid we Southerners are going to have to gear up for a major invasion soon.
___________________________________________________________________________________________________
"INSIDE EVERY PROGRESSIVE IS A TOTALITARIAN SCREAMING TO GET OUT" - David Horowitz

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#6
I've been eying this one. It is probably under-powered and maybe right at the threshold of kicking over a 1/4HP fan, but it's quiet, fairly reasonable and sips fuel (way less cost than a comparable Honda with pretty decent reviews). I'd still need to get the switch put in, and that would probably run about the same cost as the generator. I have a friend that's an electrician that I've been meaning to ask about whether or not it's feasible. In theory, I think you could potentially run one breaker at a time ... some of the better switches let you chose the circuits you want to power (don't try to backfeed). So you could run the furnace to get the house heated and then switch to fridges and freezers. If it's workable it seems like fairly cheap insurance. It's a so-called a pure sine wave inverter, so it would be much less likely to damage electronics and parallel ready, which means you can run two of these for 2x power or one for when you don't need it. Only one phase but it seems like it would work.
"Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard."
-- Henry Mencken
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#7
It is 46.4F at this time on Hilton Head Island.
'It's not who votes that matters, it's who counts the votes'  |  György Schwartz, Budapest, Hungary
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#8
(03-13-2017, 06:15 AM)WarBicycle Wrote: It is 46.4F at this time on Hilton Head Island.

And it was 27F here at six this morning. Its now a balmy 33F right now, in sunny Cary, NC. I read somewhere, a couple of months ago, where the forecast for the US was supposed to be at its worst in March and April, for some reason. It could very well be.

I'm glad I'm not living in Asia. Here's yet one more assault from Mother Nature over there: Snowstorm alert renewed for north China.
___________________________________________________________________________________________________
"INSIDE EVERY PROGRESSIVE IS A TOTALITARIAN SCREAMING TO GET OUT" - David Horowitz

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#9
Ron,

Your situation was mentioned this morning on the local Denver station that I watch. They described it as a 100+ year event ... or at least the worst since Michigan has had electric power. I also saw that 2 people had died of CO poisoning from running a generator ... apparently in a (closed attached) garage.

Hopefully the event will be a one off.
"Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard."
-- Henry Mencken
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