Thursday, December 18, 2008

Impending Doom

The one things I liked best about my six year stint of living up north in the land of the frozen tundra also known as Minnesota was the fact that winter precipitation fell mostly in the form of snow. Here in my home area of southeast Iowa, winter precipitation during the early throws of winter sometimes comes in the form of massive ice storms and one such storm is heading towards us right now with an arrival time in about four hours.

They are forecasting up to an inch of accumulated ice for my area which is almost the equivalent of a nuclear bomb. One inch of ice will knock down miles of electrical poles rendering huge swaths of towns and rural areas without power. One such big storm on a similar scale knocked out the power to my parent's farm some fifteen years ago for over three weeks before it was restored. Last year we had a storm leave just a quarter of an inch of ice and we were without electricity for a day and others for three or four days. This storm is forecasted to be four times worse.

I had half a day of vacation left to burn before the end of the work year which for me ends next Tuesday so I decided to use it this afternoon. I stopped at the local farm goods store to pick up something to prevent my worst fear of such storms from happening, freezing up the pipes of my house. I have a fireplace that can keep us warm but it is in a far corner of the house and can't possibly keep it from freezing up if we are without power for a prolonged period of time. Besides, I burn wood in it recreationally which means that if I switch to burning for heat, my winter supply of wood becomes a week supply of wood.

I thought I would price out a small generator of sorts if they had any in stock but the store said that they only had two and they sold out first thing. I wasn't really surprised so I turned my attention to kerosene heaters which they had a couple in inventory. I ended up buying one along with three gallons of kerosene which is all that they had. I figure if worst comes to worse, that might be enough to keep the pipes from freezing for a week. I'm going to keep them boxed up just in case the best happens and I don't need them so that I can return them for a generator which I would rather have.

My next stop was to fill up the propane tank that runs my smoker and grill so that I can have some warm vittles to eat without the power that runs my electrical stove. Makes me wish again that I had a gas version, but the electrical version came with the house when I bought it and I just can't get rid of a perfectly good stove because I desire a gas one. I also have a camping stove that runs on white gas if I really need some BTU's for cooking.

Finally, though I detested the thought, I stopped by the grocery store for a few supplies. It was of course a zoo, even at one o'clock on a Thursday. Everyone was cleaning off shelves like there was never going to be food again. My wife had a special order roast that I had to pick up along with some hot cocoa which is always good for cold powerless days and some milk for my morning bowl of cereal. Other than that, my cart was pretty barren.

So I am as prepared as I can get at this point. I wouldn't mind a few days of sitting by the fire and roughing it but I'm certainly not wanting to have to do that for a week. If it comes down to that, I'm going to have to cut my incoming water supply which the builders thoughtfully never installed a drain valve on to prevent freezing, and head down to the farm where my parents have a tractor driven generator and several thousand gallons of diesel fuel for the tractor. That is of course assuming that the roads are anywhere near passable.

If you don't hear from me via comments on your blog for awhile, I'm guessing the ice storm will be to blame. Thanks to blogger advances, my blog should continue posting with a new series of post concerning my trip down the Grand Canyon eight years ago. If those run out and still no comments, stop by and bury our frozen corpses in the snow out back so come spring, someone can give us a proper burial.


sage said...

Things have sure progressed since Jeremiah Johnson found that frozen mountain man... That storm is to hit here tonight, but right now we're above the ice line and are to get around 12" of snow--this will be great and maybe everything will be cancelled tomorrow and after the storm clears, I can ski.

Murf said...

I'm about to head oot to grab a few things for tomorrow's storm myself. I look forward to hibernating and already took the day off. Unlike Sage, we're suppose to get 6-10 at least last I heard.

Ed Abbey said...

Sage - Classic movie. I've got it on DVD and watch it now and then. Hope you guys get snow and not ice.

Murf - Although the rain is still coming down this morning, we only have about 1/8th inch of ice on the trees and roads. Not enough to prevent me from sliding to work. I think we dodged a bullet on this one.

The Real Mother Hen said...

Wow nasty stuff you've there. Maybe it's time for you to move West to the wonderful Oregon? :)

We've snow, plenty of snow there. But the chances of you dying from an earthquake or a volcano eruption in Oregon are probably higher than freezing to death holding on to a kerosene heater! :)

Beau said...

Glad the ice isn't too bad; you're well prepared. We seem to get the ice here also, and would much rather have the fluffy stuff. We've got a portable generator, but a tractor driven one would be even better. Skiing... wouldn't that be nice!