Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee
kevin_standlee

Ahead of the Storm

I was very lucky that I was allowed to head to Fernley yesterday afternoon. Although it meant fighting my way through both Bay Area early-commute and Sacramento late-commute traffic, the most critical portion of the 300 mile drive to Fernley (the section over Donner) had dry pavement and was not difficult. I got home about 10 PM.

Today I worked from home and watched the weather reports. By mid-day, the storm that was over Eureka yesterday afternoon was well into the Sierra and the chain controls were up. Basically, unless I'd left San Jose early this morning, I would have gotten stuck in Colfax, because as I compose this at 8 PM, the chain controls were still up.

From Fernley, I could see the approaching storm. After lunch, things were not too bad, and even vaguely warm (10 C) compared to what it has been like. We walked the two empty propane bottles (out of five, so there was no danger of us running out) down to the propane service and refilled them. I suggested we try and get in some groceries this afternoon (we have a big shopping trip planned for the weekend going into Reno). While we were there, the leading edge of the storm, with bitter winds, hit us. There was no rain or snow in it, but the wind made me feel sandblasted.

Getting back to the house, we rushed to get groceries put away and get out of the wind. While we were doing that, the power failed at Fernley House. Lisa lit off the propane refrigerator in the trailer (normally it runs on 110V current, but it will run on propane too) and put the most-critical perishables there. I shut down the computers in the house that were being held on by the UPS.

With everything secured, we hunkered down in the trailer, where we had light, water, and heat. Lisa figures we have at least a one day power supply there on just batteries and maybe more. We don't have a generator, but in a pinch we could have moved one of the vehicles in and used it to recharge the house batteries. Yes, we'd like to have a generator for the trailer, but Lisa is displeased with most of the models now on the market for various reasons, and we've had other more critical needs.

There was not a whole lot else to do, and we were both tired: Lisa because she's been keeping erratic hours and me thanks to the stressful drive in the dark yesterday. The most effective way to preserve the trailer batteries was to turn off the lights and go to bed. (This reduces the need to run the furnace as well.) We did, however, realize a shortfall in our planning. I have a 12V power cord for my CPAP machine. The trailer runs on 12V power. But there are no 12V outlets within reach of the bed. A long 12V extension cord, not to mention installing a 12V outlet beside the bed, are on the to-do list for the future. So even a power failure shouldn't affect my ability to get a good night's sleep.

We got utility power back after only a couple of hours, and I woke up after several hours myself. It wasn't a huge outage, and having what amounts to an entire backup house with an UPS, plus lots of supplies laid in makes us relatively sanguine about such things.
Tags: fernley, weather
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