Saturday, June 30, 2012

Who has heard of a Derecho?

It’s scary.  A Derecho formed mid-day in the Midwest and raced across to the MidAtlantic.  It reached here in northern VA at about 11:15 PM.  The gust front was very sudden, and blew a tree limb from a neighbor’s onto my cable line.  Power went off just before the front arrived. The heavy storm lasted maybe three or four minutes, and did not seem all that bad.  No basement flooding.  A few shingles off the top of the roof.  Maybe something hit it.

But today, it’s impossible to get in touch with Comcast.  800 number always is busy.  Agent chat session times out. And Dominion is not reporting any customers back up yet.  In this neighborhood, one set of traffic lights works, another doesn’t.

Even the local TV stations on the Internet, WJLA7 or NBC4, have little details.  Dominion Power’s own site’s numbers haven’t changed, and I can’t get the outage map to come up.  Try this link 

And the scenario could repeat today.

I’ve stayed connected with the iPad hotspot.  It dropped once, but it has worked reasonably well so far.  If the Verizon Internet connection drops, it seems that if you let it power off (and turn the hot spot off)  and then turn it all back on, it reconnects – although Windows 7 will give you a new session.

I do have a generator, thanks to an estate. It’s noisy, but so far it works.  Yes, it’s fine if others want to recharge their laptops and phones or cool off.

Be prepared.  But a vulnerable infrastructure can make individuals fail, or throw them into more interdependence.   We depend on others, who we “pay”, to do dangerous utility work in trying conditions that we couldn’t personally handle. But companies are not as well prepared as they could be. 
Storms like this happened a lot in Ohio in the summer when I was a small boy. Just about every week.  In those days, there was less that could get damaged.   In a densely populated, forested suburb they are disasters.  Why do people let trees grow so close to houses and power lines?  It’s asking for it. 

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