Tag Archives: Hurricane Season

NC Electric Cooperatives Advise: What to Do When the Lights Go Out

RALEIGH, N.C., Aug. 27, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — North Carolina’s electric cooperatives are reporting approximately 100,000 outages from Hurricane Irene, whose destructive winds and heavy rains lashed North Carolina this morning. As expected, these outages are primarily along the coast and east of I-95. Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands are completely without power. As Hurricane Irene proceeds on its path, additional outages are likely.

As the storm departs, cooperative linemen and contractors from North Carolina and other states will immediately begin restoring service as quickly as possible. Here are some tips on what to do if there is a power outage in your area.

  • Turn off every inside light except one.
  • Raise your cooling system thermostat to 80 degrees or higher.
  • If possible, turn off your electric water heater.
  • Make sure your kitchen range and oven is off.
  • Turn off as many appliances as possible.
  • Avoid opening the freezer door. A full, freestanding freezer will keep food at freezing temperatures about 2 days; a half-full freezer about 1 day.
  • Stay away from downed power lines, and call your local cooperative at once!
  • Leave your porch light on. It will help utility workers gauge their progress in restoring power to your area.
  • When the power comes back on, gradually switch on your appliances, lights and air conditioning.

 

North Carolina’s electric cooperatives serve approximately 2.5 million people in 93 of the state’s 100 counties.

Hurricane Irene Came Ashore .. We Think

Living in North Carolina, I have been following Hurricane Irene closely. She came onshore at Cape Lookout, NC at about 7:30am eastern .. I think.

First, let me say that I am thrilled that the storm has had a much more minimal impact on North Carolina, but being a curious person, I am stumped why the difference in NOAA’s numbers and actual surface wind speeds.

Take a look at the surface wind map below. Those flags show winds no greater than 40mph and there’s only one station on the outer banks even reporting that (each full tine on the flag = 10mph each 1/2 tine is 5mph). The rest are showing winds that are below tropical storm threshold (39mph).

So what happened to 85mph with 100mph gusts? Is this the big storm that didn’t? I’d hate to belittle the storm as the rain contained in the storm will still present a real flood danger to anyone in its path, but as a wind event, not so much.

So far there have been three deaths, including one child in Virginia. Two due to trees being blown down and one a heart attack while boarding up a home. While tragic, trees go down and people get killed in thunderstorms. The widespread damage associated with Hurricanes like Ike and Katrina is not evident with this storm.

I don’t have any reason to doubt the wind measurements that the NOAA P3 Orion’s took at altitude, but the surface measurements are a mystery.

Estimates were for Billions of dollars in damage from Irene, but so far, two piers in the outer banks seem to have gone missing, but little else has been shown or reported. Hopefully this will turn out to be just a large thunderstorm.

One concern might be that with current weather patterns, we’ll see more storms hit the east coast. If the next one is really dangerous, people might not take it seriously after this badly mis-estimated one. I hope that NOAA takes it upon to find out why the difference between their projections and actual measurements taken on the ground. The credibility of hurricane and tropical storm warnings depends upon it.

Survival Tips After a Hurricane Strikes

WASHINGTON, Aug. 26, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) are warning residents in hurricane-impacted areas about the deadly dangers that can remain even after Hurricane Irene strikes.

Consumers need to be especially careful during a loss of electrical power, as the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and fire increases at that time.

In order to power lights, to keep food cold or to cook, consumers often use gas-powered generators. CPSC and USFA warn consumers NEVER to use portable generators indoors or in garages, basements or sheds. The exhaust from generators contains high levels of carbon monoxide (CO) that can quickly incapacitate and kill.

“Don’t create your own disaster in the aftermath of a storm,” said CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum. “Never run a generator in or right next to a home. Carbon monoxide is an invisible killer. CO is odorless and colorless and it can kill you and your family in minutes.”

From 1999-2010, nearly 600 generator-related CO deaths have been reported to CPSC. CPSC is aware of an annual average of 81 deaths due to carbon monoxide poisoning from generators in recent years. The majority of the deaths occurred as a result of using a generator inside a home’s living space, in the basement or in the garage.

“We know from experience as victims try to recover from disasters, they will take unnecessary risks with candles, cooking and generators.  These risks often result in additional and tragic life safety consequences,” said Deputy U.S. Fire Administrator Glenn A. Gaines.  “When you consider the challenges faced by firefighters and their departments to also recover from the same disasters, it is important that all of us remember even the simplest of fire safety behaviors following disasters of any type.”

Do not put your family at risk. Follow these important safety tips from CPSC and USFA in the aftermath of a storm.

Portable Generators 
Never use a generator inside a home, basement, shed or garage even if doors and windows are open. Keep generators outside and far away from windows, doors and vents. Read both the label on your generator and the owner’s manual and follow the instructions. Any electrical cables you use with the generator should be free of damage and suitable for outdoor use.

Charcoal Grills and Camp Stoves 
Never use charcoal grills or camp stoves indoors. Burning charcoal or a camp stove in an enclosed space can produce lethal levels of carbon monoxide. There were at least seven CO-related deaths from charcoal or charcoal grills in 2007.

CO Alarms 
Install carbon monoxide alarms immediately outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home to protect against CO poisoning. Change the alarms’ batteries every year.

Electrical and Gas Safety 
Stay away from any downed wires, including cable TV feeds. They may be live with deadly voltage. If you are standing in water, do not handle or operate electrical appliances. Electrical components, including circuit breakers, wiring in the walls and outlets that have been under water should not be turned on. They should be replaced unless properly inspected and tested by a qualified electrician.

Natural gas or propane valves that have been under water should be replaced. Smell and listen for leaky gas connections. If you believe there is a gas leak, immediately leave the house and leave the door(s) open. Never strike a match. Any size flame can spark an explosion. Before turning the gas back on, have the gas system checked by a professional.

Candles 
Use caution with candles. If possible, use flashlights instead. If you must use candles, do not burn them on or near anything that can catch fire. Never leave burning candles unattended. Extinguish candles when you leave the room.

Hurricane Irene Update: Downgraded, Deadly

*Updated 11am 8/28*

Irene, now a tropical storm, made her 1st landfall at Cape Lookout, North Carolina at about 7:30am EDT Saturday with winds of 115mph. The storm then traveled up the east coast, made landfall at Little Egg Inlet, NJ, then moved through the greater New York City area at barely hurricane wind levels of 75mph.

The storm now has winds of about 60mph and tropical storm force winds extending almost 200 miles from the storm’s center. Irene is expected to weaken considerably now that she has made landfall.

Millions of Americans up and down the east coast are still without power and several communities in North Carolina, Virginia, New Jersey and New York have experienced devastating floods.

New York City’s  mass transit system remains shut down.

With one-in-four Americans living in the path of this storm, it could also be one of the costliest weather events in history. Some estimates place possible storm damage at $16.9 Billion.

As a nod to the seriousness of this weather event, President Obama cut his vacation short.

Sunday morning briefings from the governors of Virginia and New Jersey demonstrated concern for further flooding and the damage that will result. Losses will be extensive as Hurricane Irene turned out to be more of a flood event than a wind event.

TrendWatch: How Hurricane Season Can Lead to Gas Crisis

ATLANTA, May 24, 2011 — When Hurricane Katrina shut down the majority of oil      refining capabilities in the Gulf of Mexico in 2005, prices skyrocketed overnight and incited a rush on gasoline that led to a nationwide, weeks-long gas shortage. With prices currently nearing post-Katrina levels on their own, this hurricane season could prove even more damaging to both businesses and consumers.

In a recent look at the 2011 hurricane season’s potential effects on fuel prices, AccuWeather.com detailed how devastating extreme conditions can be to the nation’s fuel infrastructure. While small disruptions occur relatively frequently during hurricane season, the possibility of a major disruption in the near future may be becoming more likely.

According to AccuWeather’s 2011 Atlantic Hurricane Season Forecast, 2011 is likely to bring a higher than average number of tropical systems than last year, with a higher percentage making direct hits on the U.S. coast. The forecast targets the Texas and Western Louisiana coastlines as areas of greater concern for tropical activity, putting a large percentage of the country’s refineries and offshore platforms in the path of these damaging storms.

When a hurricane causes refineries to close, transportation costs to move oil to other locations are passed down to the consumer. If costs become too high, the platforms themselves must shut down, decreasing supply. This affects fuel prices even more, as well as prices for oil byproducts such as propane, butane and kerosene.

“When an unforeseen event suddenly drives the price of fuel up, smaller businesses have a hard time keeping up,” said Raquel Elie of FleetCards USA TrendWatch. “Owners have to take drastic measures to shore up their expenses, which can mean cutbacks in their budgets or even substantial downsizing. The best safeguard against this is to keep a close eye on prices and always be prepared for a change.”

With the price of fuel in such a volatile state, it is important to guard your fleet against increased costs by managing your fuel spending. Finding cheaper prices on fuel is comforting in the short term, but to effectively manage your expenses, it is important to examine every aspect of your fuel consumption and stop inefficiencies at each step.