Monday, September 13, 2021

Power Outage

      A little after 9:00 last night, our power went out.

      I had gone to bed early.  Tam was up, reading a book on her iPad.  So when the power went out, it didn't make much difference.  She always carries a flashlight.  I always have one where I can put hands on it -- on my nightstand, in this situation, and not hidden in a drawer but right on top, between the phone  and the clock/radio (probably a sure mark of a Boomer).

      As the minutes ticked on, Tam deployed lightsticks (to aid in navigation and give the home that "there's someone in here" look) and I put a high-efficiency battery lantern on the towel shelf in the washroom.

      Trying to get to our power company's website with my smartphone to check on the outage, service was weak and creepingly slow.  Tam reported the same on a different carrier.  Out the front and back windows, the city was dark as far as we could see.  There was decent sky glow from the direction of downtown but not so much to the east, north or west.

      The closest cellular tower is at a substation several blocks away.  From the evidence, there was a problem there or on the incoming feed to it.

      My smartphone eventually got a connection and pulled in the map.  The power company uses symbols -- green discs for small outages, orange squares for larger ones, yellow triangles for small neighborhoods and black diamonds for power interruptions that hit 2,000 or more customers.  We had a full set: a scattering of green, an orange square over on Keystone Avenue, and a funny symbol near the substation.  Zooming in eventually showed it was a black diamond over a yellow triangle.  At least 2,500 customers out.  It was big.

      Power stayed off off the next two and a half hours.  Holden Wu decided to guard the doors, going from front to back and flopping down in "draft excluder" mode in front of of whichever door Tam or I was near. Huck kept watch in my room, peering out the window.

      This morning, local TV reported someone had crashed their car and taken out a pole for a major power line along Keystone Avenue, knocking out power to more than 14,000 homes and businesses.

      Do you know where your flashlights are?  


fillyjonk said...

Heh, reminds me of a day a few years back - I came in to work, did my early chores (including retrieving some delicate samples from a muffle furnace and carrying them carefully over 100 yards of rough ground). got them safely stowed in the lab and BOOM, no power. No light, no computer, nothing.

A group of us faculty hung out in the hall - so, okay, what do we do now? I had class at 9:15, can't teach in a room with tiny windows even IF the chalkboard were suitable to write on (I cancelled class). We speculated if we'd just get the whole day off. Someone reported the then-president of the university, when asked whether to cancel classes, said "Can't the faculty just teach without technology or lights?" (no, many of use could not)

I think I wound up just cancelling my other class as well, because power wasn't back on. (IIRC - I went home and posted something on the class webpage; I had power at home).

Turned out a DWI had hit a light pole near campus and taken most of campus down for the better part of a day. Yeah. DWI at about 8:15 am.

RandyGC said...

While annoyed about the increased traffic on my formerly dead end street, at lest the new (well, it wasn't there when I moved in) housing development next door resulted in an upgrade of the local power grid.

Apparently the local squirrels had a jihad against the transformer on the pole on the back of my property and once every year or so one of them would kamikaze it. Since the upgrade that transformer has been pulled out of service and no problems except weather related and the occasional vehicle crash such as you had.

Battery powered lights all over the house of various types and sizes, and the shack has a 60ah battery on a PWR Gate, plenty to run VHF radios for a good while.

Was looking at getting a backup generator years ago, but the local gas main installed in the 50's won't handle the flow. The gas company generously offered to let me pay to have the lines for the whole neighborhood upgraded.

Jeffrey Smith said...

You might want to check on who is responsible for the cell phone towers in your area.
It's possible the bad service was just the result of 14k Hoosiers trying to find out what was going on exactly as you were doing--but those towers supposedly have back-up batteries built in to keep them running for at least a few hours in this sort of situation (up to 24 hours, I think).

Roberta X said...

Jeffrey Smith: texts worked, but were slow; web-pages were really slow. It gave every sign of a limited or overloaded backhaul. That could be network damage or too many users. The pole-mounted 5G network mini-nodes would have limited battery life, if any.

William C. said...

I'm sure you've considered it at some point - a small generator like a Honda 2200 (maybe with a propane conversion kit added) if for nothing else than the fridge. My NG furnace draws 865 watts in "full heat run mode" (7/8 of that is for the blower) so a 2000 watt gennie will keep me toasty.

Side note: Know anything about Anywhere pans? I ordered one the last time you mentioned yours (they were on sale then, $75) and haven't heard anything back, and no response when I email them.

Roberta X said...

William C, I have considered a small generator, but haven't needed one so far. Step One would be finding a good place to stash it between uses. It would be really good in a longer outage, especially in winter. It might be less useful in a TEOTWAWKI situation, being a high-value target and difficult to conceal.

On the pan, I have an "Always" pan. I don't think I've seen them for less than $100. The company can be *very* slow; it's a relatively small operation and they run manufacturing in batches that sell out quickly. The lead time on mine was something over six weeks, without much in the way of updates -- IIRC, they mass-mailed that ended up in my email spamtrap folder when I went looking.

The "Our Place" people just launched a large cookpot that is getting rave reviews, so I don't think they have skedaddled with your check. Their pans and other things are only available via their website.