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Snow, Ice, Electricity, and Internet

The words in the title could be put in a picture with the caption - these things do not go well together!

In my part of the pacific northwest we had temperatures below freezing for a period of time. We also had snow over several days. Then the snow started to melt and the freezing rain and sleet came down - and all of the snow on the trees turn to ice.

ice on limbs

My potted lilac tree

This is one of my three potted lilacs. I love lilacs and I have them wherever I live. This is one of them covered with ice. The ice melted off my plants and they are all fine. But imagine larger trees - trees beginning to bud and leaf out, dangling over power lines and utility lines with snow, sleet, hail and everything falling down on them and sticking! Then add in a sudden thaw with warmish rain! Power lines went down everywhere.

Power lines

The power lines in my part of the city are not this picture - but looking at it you know it's power lines. They are all over the place in this country. Most places have their power lines above ground and often trees grow very near them. Sometimes trees are trimmed back by the power company, sometimes not. Add to the scenario here - the the 2nd warmest December and January on record. Trees, geese, ducks, etc. started to do what they do come Spring: leaf, bud, nest!


I did not hear any transformers blow but friends of mine were reporting that it's a very odd sound to hear crash boom whoops - then no electricity. My electricity went off at 3:30 in the morning and I did not hear a thing as I am not that near my transformer. I was, though, very suddenly aware of the silence.


The updates from the electric company were pretty positive for a while. They estimated it would be back by 6:30 AM then maybe by 10 or noon then maybe by eight at night then it was maybe one day later then they said we estimate everybody will be back in service by Thursday night. 


We all figured that as soon as they went to fix one line another one went down because power was out all over the city. There are two power companies here and they both were busy working and crews came in from other states to help because it was/is a disaster.


People in all electric houses remained cold until their power came back on. And because the city doesn't really plow streets there was no easy way to travel around to get warm or get food and besides we're still in the middle of a pandemic  - so most people just bundled up and were thankful is was not that cold - the temperatures had gone up into the 40s.


But you really come face-to-face with how reliant we are on electricity. Of course, there was no computer and Internet because of no electricity. I sat in my car and charged my phone there which is what most people I know did. And I almost hate to admit this but it's funny - I took my coffee bean grinder up and ground some beans for the coffee because I make French press coffee and I could at least start my gas stove with matches. And - the ground beans did make the car smell very good while I sat there charging my phone.

And The internet

Our power came back on my neighbors and I were ecstatic because we could do things we weren't able to do and I could more easily use my phone for work because I knew I could charge it quickly in my house. But then I turned on my computer and discovered no Internet. So I contacted the company and they said they were working on it. The entire neighborhood was out - frankly we have so little love for our Internet provider we don't trust them. But it actually was a neighborhood provider outage. That came back on this morning and they said they would text when it did and they did. I had been out in soy truck up on the main road so I knew they actually were working in the neighborhood. The text followed the sighting of the truck so I assume it had made the rounds and had redone whatever connections were undone. 


But like with the electricity, you come to realize how much you do rely on having Internet service - and over the years speedy Internet service. Sometimes when it's not fast enough for my liking I remind myself what it was like to live with dial up. If you were not using Internet in those days let me tell you, it was slower than you can imagine.

I sometimes think about the people who say they want to live off the grid. I don't think they really mean off the grid I think they mean partially off the grid because it's very hard - unless you are very well prepared to really live without electricity, without Internet, without cell phone service, and without even a landline wherever it is you decide to land when you go off the grid. I know there are people who do it. In my life I have actually spent days and months without such services. But I always come back to civilization because I miss it. This time around I was able to deal with all of it because I knew the electric company would get the power back on - and I knew the Internet provider would get the service going again, etc.

We have come to rely on our infrastructure and not give it much thought. It's only when it goes down we realize how fragile it is. It will be nice when we think about infrastructure all the time and fix it before it breaks. But that's become a political issue - it didn't used to be so political, but it is now - and I'm just gonna leave this thought.

My serious concerns were for the COVID-19 vaccinations because here, the vaccination spots closed due to bad roads and weather. But because we live in a society, people did band together, got these places up and running again, and vaccines are again being doled out. I understand there are problems with some of the transporting of vaccines across the country because the weather is bad everywhere but people are trying their best to get the vaccinations out to the different places and into the arms of the people.

Your turn. Thoughts? Comments? Random newsletters?

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  • Here in Texas, it has been the same – finally internet and electric yesterday! We are so dependent on the internet for everything from work to entertainment, aren’t we?

  • Lily Leung says:

    Perhaps it’s good to have these wake up calls to remind us of how fragile our civilized systems are and to fix them. I wonder if this will change those who doesn’t think there is climate change. Hmmm, probably not.

  • KateLoving says:

    My house runs totally on electricity. I have worried about exactly what you outlined in your blog post. Consequently, I am going to be getting solar panels in the spring on my roof with back up batteries. I think it’s a good idea and makes me feel better already. Your situation is dire. The electrical grid Is subject to hacking. This is a good time for all of us to think about going solar. Namaste.

  • Hi Lynn, sounds like a mess. Glad everything is back up for you. I can’t imagine not be able to surf the net or stream shows, etc during this pandemic while we are all stuck at home a lot. Sound like a “perfect storm”. 🙁 Also feel bad for the people in Texas. I am in CO and we are more use to the cold and such, but they are not. Hopefully this polar vortex will end soon (at least faster than this annoying Wuhan Virus). Stay warm.

    • Thank you – yes, being stuck home due to the virus and then not having electricity or internet made it hard – all my books are on my phone as the libraries are still closed. I’m ok now but I have friends still without power and friends in Texas – youch 🙁

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