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  1. 97B40
    Your great story helped me remember the week I started to prepare. We had a similar situation. Around 1987 we had a cold wet December when the wind changed to out of the North. We had snow, ice, downed power lines and no power for 10 days. We had a little fire wood which we used to feed an open fireplace. The house was so cold we had 5 people sleeping in the living room. My wonderful mother in law, visiting from San Diego, just kept telling us she could not understand how we could live in a place like this.
    Our young sons were very cold which motivated me greatly.
    Never again became my battle cry.
    My mother in law is in heaven, our sons have moved on and
    30 years later we are are still tweeking the preps living in this beautiful place.

  2. “land lines are not obsolete”
    BUT – check things out. In my area, when there is no electricity then there is no telephone service! As I found out the hard way when we had an ice storm several years ago that took out electricity for a week. Now I have solar power(minimal – about 45 watts) and a cell phone, in addition to the land line.

    1. The only way your landline would be out of electricity is if the central office was not powering the lines. Every central office is required to have battery backups for the mainlines leaving. Even in California, we had entire rooms devoted to battery backup. Check with your landline provider and find out what they are NOT doing!

      1. The problem may be that you have a phone that needs to be plugged in to 120volt power to work! If so by a phone that dosen’t have a transformer plugged into it and just runs off of phone line current.

        1. I live in the Redoubt and purchased one of those old Princess phones for ten dollars at a local junk/antique store, to go with my landline. Works just fine and doesn’t need batteries or to be plugged in to electric outlet. And it reminds me of my teenage years! Still use my smartphone for most things but it’s a great feeling to have the back up communications.

  3. In the Midwest this weekend, expecting highs at Zero, lows in the Minus 10 to 20 range, with only 3-6 jnches of snow (Colorado looks like a banana belt in contrast). Light winds forecasted so hopefully no power outages expected from downed lines.

    One thing I’ve learned is that new modern heavily insulated garage doors are extraordinarily heavy – power goes out and no electricity for the opener (unless you have a battery backup), you are screwed unless you can clean and jerk 300 lbs. if your cars are in the garage, along with the big snow blower that won’t fit through the side door, you’ll have some issues – I have a generator on wheels in garage if necessary but others may have overlooked this issue.

    If power is likely to be out for more than a few days with low temperatures, then be ready to drain your water pipes, including any water in your toilet tanks – otherwise the freeze damage will be very expensive – saw this in a blizzard that hit the Cascades in the late 70’s.

    Lots of calories needed in this weather and now thinking about the options when it’s too cold to cook outside for long (ever tried to use your propane grill at minus 10 – it doesn’t work!) – better see if the Coleman stove is ready along with the lanterns – using the propane tanks first then the fuel as a back-up.

    Stay warm, and God Bless…

    1. @J.T.
      Just wondering if you have had your springs checked on your garage door? I have a 10×10 insulated garage door on my shop/garage and when I installed it, the door was balanced where even a small child could open it. Over the years, the springs have settled in and it now takes a bit of lifting to open it, but the torsion springs can be re-calibrated to balance it. I just haven’t gotten around to it yet. I don’t have an electric opener on the door.

      1. HJL:
        Most of doors you two are talking about can have a fall chain back up installed. Some door manufacturers have available some don’t. Scuttlebutt has it that there are aftermarket one on the net at the writing of this blog article I was unable to confirm this, however if anyone beats me to the confirmation I would also be interested in finding out when, where, and from whom. And, remember use your legs when lifting heavy weights, no kidding, I got lucky when I heriniated a disc in my back and have not had a problem since not everyone is so blessed after a back injury, so, find the chain fall, get the chain fall, install the chain fall! Work smarter and not harder.

    2. on those heavy garage doors they have springs to help neutralize the weight if you’re carefull and have tools you can tension the springs so they open easily … will also save power and wear on your openers

      1. Will be calling the garage door folks – replaced one spring on one side, and then one spring on the the other door – may not have gotten the tension right – glad to hear the other options.

      2. Great points – replaced one spring on one door, then another on the other door – likely should have just replaced both springs, and will have the garage guys back out to see how well they can get the tension reset.

  4. My overhead garage door is 20′ wide x 8′ high clear. a spring recently broke, as it always will at the most inconvient time. it took my son and i to raise it and i propped it open with a 2×4. if my son wasnt around, i would have had to use my floor jack or farm jack to raise it to a point to get enough weight on the overhead tracks to the point where i could raise it myself, but i could have done it alone. my genny is in the garage where my backfeed outlet is, so if power was out i could have powered it, but even with power the operator doesnt work with a broken spring. lessons learned:
    10 year maintenence schedule on the door ( it was 14 years old and also needed new cables, lubrication and a belt on the operator)

    rules of 3 for raising it!
    Happy New Year to all, safe preps!

  5. In the states a major snow storm is called SnowArmageddon, here in northern British Columbia Canada, we call it a Wednesday. At least 3 full bush cords of firewood, food, and water prepared to hunker down as long as required. No Walmarts here.

  6. We live in northern Maine, where this morning’s temperature was – 16 F. Getting a plow truck in is very expensive and it takes days, and snow blowers were constantly breaking with no good mechanics, so this year we plow with horses. It works great, and they leave a few inches of very hard pack snow over the gravel to protect our pipes. We also heat with wood; most of our neighbors would die if the power went out for a few days since their oil burners and pellet stoves would fail. Scary to think about.

  7. My daughter was born Dec 21, 1990. My wife had a scheduled c section. A storm was predicted and I had very little in the way of preps. I went out and bought a little kerosene heater and 5 gallons of kerosene. The doctor had to be brought to the hospital in someone’s 4wd as he could not get out his driveway. We lost power for a week. Lost water a few days in when the local water company’s tank emptied out finally and could not be refilled. We stayed warm and did ok. I heat completely with wood now but that kerosene heater is not a bad way to go for some circumstances.

  8. Great story. We were in good shape (food, water, wood heat) in Montana but didn’t have a generator. We recently added a generator; a quiet, fuel efficient and portable Honda 2000 generator. There is nothing like reading when the grid goes down. Now we have lights and can run our frig. We should have bought it years ago!

  9. I think everyone in the mountains of West Virginia has a generator. Power goes out here fairly often though my place has maxed out at only about 6 days off. We’ve seen our share of big snows. 1977 was the worst in recent memory with totals well into the double digits of feet. D9 dozers from the local strip mines were used to clear roads. I was in high school then and we went to school 2 or 3 days at the beginning of Jan and didn’t return till sometime in Feb.

    Deep larder here, generator and a wood furnace as backup. Propane fireplace works great even without the fan and Kerosene heat is always available. Be prepared folks.

    1. I was in the same Colorado storm in 2003 in the northern mountains at 7200 feet. I too was alone and to fight the boredom, spent hours each day shoveling around the house to get to the back up generator in the shed, solar panels were useless. Two things I learned was to stay close to house and have snow shoes. I tried to go down the driveway on cross country skis and almost died in the deep snow.

  10. Sir/Ma’am,

    Where I am currently posted, the Great Ice Storm of 98 hit this area hard. Many were without any Grid power for atleast 3 weeks. This included upwards of 700 000 US people.

    Your article is a good reminder to be self sufficent, and prepared if Nature has its way.

    God bless,

    1. Especially those of y’all that are on active duty. Make sure your family is well Prepared if you have to head “down range”. Thank you and God Bless you.

  11. Massive snows with low temperatures make for awesome challenges. The power outage usually precedes either the freezing of pipes or something else breaking.

    Even single-point failures at weather extremes make things a misery. Nothing like replacing part of your garage door opener at -25 F with an added 20-30 mph wind to drag the last bit of heat out of you.

    Not certain exactly what temperatures 100LB LP tanks stop producing, but have had to bring in three of the four tanks inside to warm, rotating an warmed up one outside when the gas started tapering off.

    When we get a hint of a Snowmagedon in the works, I drag a skid steer home from work, and plug in its engine heater. Makes pretty quick work of clearing a lot of snow, as long as you don’t get off the road too badly (yes, there is a story there..). I usually son nearby neighbors once I’ve dug myself out.

    Decent snowmobile gear seems to work okay for clearing snow. I guess if you think about it the windchills voluntarily experience snowmobiling are more than most real weather offers. I have a backup that is a Nomex version from oil platform safety gear I sometimes use, but it is pretty heavy.

    As for those power outages, well that is why I’ve kept four-five cords of split firewood just outside and refused to cave in when family wants to put gas logs in everything.

    If prepared being “snowed in” is a treat. One has to let go of vanity expenditures of energy though – if prepared well you can let the snow fall carry on until it is done. A few times I didn’t get to grab a bobcat early enough I called in help, and then passed-forward the favor by helping others.

    Some nasty stuff to be prepared for in a Snowmagedon are dealing with damages to the house like broken windows or if the frost drives deeper than your foundation frost walls having doors that won’t close or get popped out. There is a a reason you kept some big sheets of cardboard and plywood handy, and a couple extra rolls of batt insulation, right? I’ve found some scrap pieces of rubber a roofer was throwing away very handy for impromptu cold weather repairs. Some of the plastic sheet I scrounged were unworkable at cold temperatures as they lost their flexibility.

    As a school kid I’ve gone to school on cross country skis, though mostly because my folks sent us outside to burn off energy. Falling though the ice up my armpits in a snow covered – no a snow hidden -stream was an adventure, as I had to build a fire and dry gear out before walking back out of the woods in the dark. Forgot to mention it was about -20 F but fortunately not very windy.

    Life is an adventure!

    1. Stay in the South?

      Very poor snowmobiling down there, and the ice fishing is highly substandard!

      Hard to make naturally freeze-distilled “apple jack” as well down there.

      Ir is pretty awesome and humbling to experience all four seasons unfettered.

      Missed every time life moved me away for a while.

      Oh, on landline phones – power outages are why you keep a couple old fashioned no power needed other than the phone line itself phone sets around. And then the lines can still go down regardless of how well you’re prepared.

  12. When I was a kid growing up in rural Indiana, whenever the power went out, the land line phones did too. In those days we didn’t have cell phones. The power and phone lines shared the same poles, so when a falling branch took out the power, it also took out the phones.

    We had a good pile of wood out in the back yard and usually two or three nights a winter the family curled in front of the fireplace. Power and phones were usually restored within a day or two.

    A more cautionary tale concerning land line phones was the earthquake of 1989 in San Francisco. Phone service was not restored for a week. There was no way we could contact friends and relatives to say that we were OK. The house we were in was built on bedrock, so experienced very little shaking, but with the power and phones out, no communications, no back up battery powered radio or TV, that was most disconcerting. With visions of 1906 in our minds, we could see in the distance the glow of a big fire, but had no way to know whether or not it posed a danger to us (it didn’t).

    I now have a Ham license and am trying to set up an emergency communications protocol with other family members should a similar situation happen again.

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