Violent storm on the way for Sunday – Monday…

If this is accurate http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/uk-weather-emergency-services-high-2592128 then I’d better look to my emergency kit and charge every conceivable battery between now and Monday.

I have a two-mantle gas lantern, two camping stoves, and gas for both, plus a seriously warm sleeping bag, and a head-torch, all relics of my backpacking days. The flats here are all electric, so and vulnerable to power cuts, and that would also take out the communal central heating pumps.

If the electricity stays, but the gas goes down (unlikely, but still), that also means no heat, which is the least of my worries as I have ample thermals and fleeces.

A potential problem is my profiling bed, so I’d better set it in a useable, even if not perfect, position on Sunday afternoon, and leave it there, which basically means I’ll be going back to sleeping sitting upright,

In fact, I’d do better staying out of the bedroom in the absence of heat, as the room is a fridge, and consolidate my position in the living room, which is adjacent to the kitchen and the bathroom.

This area survived relatively unscathed in 1987 (Hurricane? What hurricane” – Copyright – M. Fish!), with the main damage being trees blowing down onto buildings and cars – one tree cut the local bank clean in two. In the middle of the night, luckily. For suburbia, this is a heavily wooded area (thank the Victorians in the main), and the capacity for arboreal havoc is pretty high – I’m always surprised after a serious blow, which used to be pretty common,** that the damage isn’t far worse.

**We have a whole generation with no experience of big winds or even extremely cold weather. In 1986, coming home from the Peak District after a weekend in the snow, I decided to take the Cat and Fiddle route, descending from the pub the inside of the car – with the heat on full blast, slowly became sheathed in ice, and the hot air died away as the engine’s temperature gauge headed for zero, and would happily have gone zooming past the pin.

On the outskirts of Macclesfield I had to pull over and stop as, with the ice on every square inch of the interior, including the glass, and road crap and more ice all over the glass outside, I couldn’t see a damned thing. Nor could I clean the windscreen as I thought the washer nozzles had frozen.

Got out, popped the bonnet – leaving the engine running – I found that not only were the nozzles frozen, but the tubing and the reservoir were rock-solid – and the reservoir was tucked between the cylinder block and the scuttle, where it should have got all the warmth available, but it had done no good. I could even put my hand – and bear in mind the engine was running – on the cylinder head. It was barely warm. We has to sit there for over an hour until things thawed out enough to be able to drive safely, sitting in our own private rain-shower as the internal ice melted. And that, boys and girls, if you’re under 30, is the sort of extreme temperature you are very unlikely to have experienced in this country since then.

And back on topic:-

Annoyingly, I have just restocked my freezer, and an extended power cut will trash everything. I’m insured but that won’t feed me.

I have plenty of soup, canned beans, and bags of rice and, remember – anything canned is already cooked and, unless specifically instructed not to, can be eaten cold straight from the can if you don’t have the means to heat it. True, hot food is better, but cold food provides the same calories and nutrients as hot. In cities, where power lines are mostly underground, any problems are likely to be resolved quickly, but in more remote, rural, areas could take several days, or more.

Water might be problematic, though in 1987 it wasn’t so I’m probably being overly cautious, but I intend to store enough water for a day at least, as I have a huge number of drugs for which I need water – 63 tabs and caps a day. If you’re in a similar position,  do ensure you have enough water – dry-swallowing drugs can be dangerous. As I said, water should be fine – electricity is the greatest risk.

I’m confident that, even in my parlous state, I can deal with this. A lot of people, however, especially the disabled, old and frail, and just generally knackered, might not be able to, especially if their power goes down and it turns cold so, if you can, keep an eye on your neighbours.

And in your own case, if you have no heat, just pile on clothes – multiple thin  layers are warmer than one or two thick layers. And because of the high blood supply to the brain and the scalp, the body loses a third of its heat via the head, so wear a hat. A wool or fleece beanie for preference, but almost any hat is better than no hat at all. Baseball caps, though, are pretty rubbish and should be regarded as a last resort.

If you have pets that you keep outside (why?!), bring them in. The actual event is scheduled to take place Sunday night – Monday morning, so those of us in the West, at least, will wake to the aftermath. This might be chaotic, with no electricity and maybe no gas, and roads blocked or cars trashed by fallen trees, or you might be standing in bright, if windy, sunshine, wondering what all the fuss was about, but bear in mind that being prepared is far preferable to being taken by surprise.

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8 thoughts on “Violent storm on the way for Sunday – Monday…

  1. Well done Ron, for pointing out some things I had forgotten. As you know, I’m in the North East of Scotland and we just may get a bit of the tail end, unless it decides to keep on going with as much strength as it can.
    Because we are coming into winter anyway, we need to do the usual just to be safe. We are charging our lamps, we’ve changed the batteries in the torches, made sure that another king size duvet is at hand and sorted out some extra blankets for the pets – (I so agree with the Why? in your mention of the pets outside!) – and made sure that we have loads of bottles filled with water.
    If the electric did ever go here then we wouldn’t be able to cook as it’s an electric cooker (which I hate!) and the heating is both gas and electric as you need the electric to light the boiler! There is no way to do it manually and whoever invented the central heating where you use gas but need electricity to light it, should be hung, drawn and quartered!
    Anyway, you keep safe and if the storm doesn’t hit, you could always spend a night “camping” in your living room 🙂 I think that would be great fun for you – and no cheating if you do 🙂
    Jay x

    • According to the Met Office website, here on Wirral we’re just a bit north of the track of the anti-cyclone as it moves southwest to northeast, and getting no big winds. I’m not buying that. As I understand it, both low and high pressure zones rotate, with low pressure zones like this one sucking in the surrounding air from all sides more or less equally – not just from the south, as this one is claimed to do.

      So, until proven otherwise by events I’ll assume we’re going to get hammered and act accordingly.

      I remembered after I’d written the blog post that I had a Trangia cookset with a gas conversion (they normally run on meths), and it’s so efficient that it’ll boil water on the tiniest sniff of gas. I’ve also got a kettle that fits inside the stove so no heat is wasted and that, too, is amazingly efficient, so no matter what happens, I’m ready for it.

  2. my thoughts entirely Ron. have been out and bought leggings (a thing i never wear and which,on seeing me wearing them the other day, my daughter said, mother they dont look right on you at all.lol) plus long thick socks. shorter soft wooly ones.which i usually wear in my boots and have a load of but none new so not as soft now .all need replacing eventually. (anyone of my family reading this take note??? a quid a pair for cheap xmas presents?lol). fingerless gloves for typing in. at least for 2 hours on my lappy if i keep it charged up. as far as i can.thicker gloves otherwise.
    got my thicker duvet out and on bed ready. tho folded down.bought some of those walll lights battery operated that you press to light up and an LED lamp . also battery operated.so i can read at least. got a stack of books here to read anyway. soup, some tinned meat, tinned fruit, etc. tho Tesco seems to be selling more polish.Russian and halal tinned meats than our usual English ones here. couple with my borderline diabetes, IBS, acid reflux……….. not too happy if i have to resort to those. most of the text is foreign.
    oh bought tea lights and candles too.plus a box of 32 duracel batteries.have one of those torches that are either battery operated or you can keep pressing this thing at side to sort of wind it up. the army had them in ww2. my dad had one of those.
    like you i have electric cooking,microwave, kettle etc. i do have a big flask that keeps water hot enough to make tea for upto 48 hours. wont hold enough for that length of time mind. if i need to drink it but eke it out be ok for a short while,. always have plenty of bottled water and other drinks in .gas central heating plus a gas fire which i will have problems putting on as the knob is at the bottom on the side. have difficulty using it. but once on can be left on……oh. no. not a good idea. if theres a cut in gas during the night, then it comes on again while im asleep i wont know. couldnt get to see if pilot light was on or not.etc. not good.hmm. bugger.
    there has also been a long range forcast of us having the worst winter in 100 years.i saw the article on MSN news. loads of snow and black outs. so its not just this weekend we need to bother about. have got a good stock of salt in. so can at least get out my door if only so the dog can go out n not get buried in snow. can also still feed the birds.like you i have full chest freezer and upright one too.though if its that cold i cant see much happening to their contents for quite a while.the weekend? if its full the stuff will stay frozen for at least 24 hours./longer if you have a thermal blanket or something to put over it and keep the cold in.anyway. both of us on right track by looks of it. its those like my neighbour who disbelieve it could happen that will have problems and he has 2 dogs to keep warm too.my daughter with 2 cats and a dog ,they refuse to believe a winter such as is forecast is going to happen on simply because “theyve been wrong befor”….not being very sensible. at least if it doesnt happen its a bonus. if it does we have done all we can to stay alive and foil the govt statiticians.

    • I’ve had a load of gas cartridges in stock for years – they keep forever. The way things are going there’s a very good chance of power cuts this winter anyway, whether it’s this weekend or not.

      It pays to keep an eye on the US to see what’s heading our way in terms of snow, and so far it’s been pretty bad, with whole herds of cattle wiped out. It depends on the Jet Stream too, and if it picks up the US weather it can bring it here in a matter of days, which is what prompted that dire forecast.

      I’m having trouble eating at the moment, which is what nearly killed me at the beginning of the year and, tonight, I was making room in the freezer for new stock – stuff I know I should be able to eat – when I found a bag of roasting veggies, so I stir-fried them – much faster – and I’m having them with curry gravy. Very nice they are too. They need tweaking, cos there’s sod all in the way of protein but that’s easily fixed, and I now have something else I can eat. It doesn’t matter that most of the flavour is in the gravy (Bisto Roasted Winter Vegetable gravy mix plus a dessert spoon of curry powder and a squirt of HP fruity sauce), as long as it keeps body and soul together.

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  4. I wonder what the temperature was that night ? Must’ve been very exposed as well. In 87 we were really hit, trees down, lost a chimney and found neighbour’s (3 doors down!) shed in our garden. It was like the Wizard of Oz!

    • It was late summer/early autumn, so not really cold. One guy’s tent was destroyed the first night – his own fault, he put it up very sloppily, and it wasn’t really his weekend as the next day, walking along an old mine track cut into the side of a very deep valley, the wind picked him up bodily, pack and all, and carried him over the edge.

      Luckily, it was about the only spot for miles where the drop was interrupted by a ledge a few yards down, which he managed to snag . Not a happy bunny when we hauled him up, though.

      After that – we could hear the wind roaring up the valley like an express train – we threw ourselves to the ground and grabbed whatever we could before it got close, Made for slow progress.

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