Three Day Storms : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

A lot of people on this forum are pointing to the snowstorms on the east coast and saying how they are glad they prepped because one should be prepared for a three day storm. My question is: How common are such storms?

My family lives in Baltimore. In the twenty years I can think of exactly one three day storm - the March 1993 storm. (This current storm was a one day storm; you could drive on the second day and by the third day things were back to normal.) Before that, I remember a huge snowstorm in 1979 (I think) but that's it. Even during those storms for that matter, power was up and phones were operating normally.

So there's my question. For everyone spending their time preparing for a three day storm, how many of those have you experienced? Other than the one in 1979, I never have had problems getting around for more than a day and never have experienced a blackout longer than an hour or two in my entire 31 years. (Man am I jinxing myself here ;) ) Am I just lucky - it would seem improbable based on the sheer number of different communities I have lived in: cities, small towns, colleges ranging from Upstate NY to the New Mexico desert. How common do you find a three day storm?

-- Just Curious (, January 29, 2000


Oh about once a year (in GA). But I am SO ready! HA! HA! (I prepped for Y2K) Even so, my husband, facing two to three days in the house with me, alone, in the country, braved icy roads and bitter cold to get two cartons of cigarettes, a bag of Hershey bars, three boxes of brownie mix and a 12 pack of cokes. NOW he faces two to three days in the house with me, alone, in the country, HIGH as a kite on sugar. Men--you gotta love 'em- they try so hard!

-- jeile (, January 29, 2000.

* * * 20000129 Saturday

Just Curious:

My take on the phrase "three day storm" refers NOT NECESSARILY to the duration of a "storm," but rather, to the likely duration of interruption to typical human activities/routines (i.e., work, transportation/mobility, etc.).


Regards, Bob Mangus

* * *

-- Robert Mangus (, January 29, 2000.

Bob- I'm not trolling. I know that the term 3 day storm refers to the duration of the effects and not the duration of the actual storm. Three days is a long time for a community to recover though; from my experience that might happen once or twice a decade at most. Apparently if I had lived in rural Georgia, I might think differently (thanks for that news), but since I don't, I'm curious as to how frequent of an event such a storm is.

-- Just Curious (, January 29, 2000.

Dear Just-- Never. 22 hrs longest power outage and that happened in August. Are we prepared? YES! Gravity fed hot water heat AND now a generator and gas stove (like a wood stove for gas) and a fireplace. It has been -18 to -7F each morning this week. Those temperatures are deadly. If you are near an ocean or a great lake, the temperatures are moderated by the water as a heat sink. If you are inland as we are, you risk losing your plumbing, carpets when the pipes burst and possibly freezing to death. Why risk it?

-- Pam (, January 29, 2000.

So how about this. About a month total for natural disasters that wiped out lites and isolated myself and family. Earthquakes, ice storms, volcanos and other assorted squirrels. 5 years of abject poverty where being prepared was a daily struggle and the RULE not a whim. Facing retirement with teeth climched and the pantry full.

-- John Q (, January 29, 2000.

Prepping isn't about the preps. Though my preps will see me through all kinds of things - not just storms. Prepping is a mindset, an attitude, a way of life. It's thinking out of the box in the simplist of terms. Prepping is about staying ready to be dependent only on yourself. Prepping is also about understanding that your circumstances can do a 180 degree turn in an instant. If you have a prepped attitude, you survive. If you measure the logic of "how many times has there been a bad storm" against the logic of Murphy's Law, you might luck out - but then again - you might not. Life is a gamble any way you look at it. For me, I prefer to hedge my bets 'cause I have a prepped attitude. So sue me.

-- April (, January 29, 2000.


how could you have been here for 20 years and miss the blizzard of '96 -it snowed for 5 days.

-- Charli (, January 29, 2000.

Sorry, Curious, if you thought I did not take your post seriously. (did I detect a bit of sarcasm in the words "rural GA" and "thanks for that news"?) I do live in a sort of rural area, but still in Metro Atlanta. You may not know that Atlanta has recently had major weather related power outages. Although my power has stayed on this time, there have been times when it has not and it is NOT very pleasant. From what I'm seeing on television, I would not want to be driving around downtown Atlanta (What ARE those people doing out on those ice covered streets?) Have a nice day.

-- jeile (, January 29, 2000.

Here in Alaska, 3 day storms are not uncommon. We just had a 5 1/2 day snow storm, which is uncommon for us.

Our one road into town ( from Anchorage ) has been closed off and on for about 3 days. Cutting our supply line. Electric service has been intermittent.

Most folks here are preped enough to handle in times like this, but with my y2k preping, the oil lamps were all full, generator tuned up and all back up systems ready to go.

We're still waiting for a loader to dig us out, but cant really think of any place to go. So I guess I'll spend time puttering around in the basement, building birdhouses or such.

-- Capt Dennis (, January 29, 2000.

jeile- No sarcasm at all. Rural came from "from the country"

Charli- Haven't lived in Bmore in 96 and I don't remember that one. 96, 96, when was that one (and don't say 1996 please :) )

Pam - as to why risking it, I'm thinking in game theory terms. The value of an insurance plan is the amount that you are protected for times the probability it will be used. If, like jeile, the power went out for days annually, a generator is useful. If the power only goes out incredibly rarely, it most likely is a waste of money (except for camping trips).

April- there is nothing wrong with that kind of life, it just isn't the one I choose to live. If it makes you happy though, continue to do so- not like you need my permission to.

-- Just Curious (, January 29, 2000.

Last January we had an ice storm that caused our power to be off for 2 days. Just this past summer, my mother lost power for 6 days because of a storm. This week, we were house bound for 2 days because of a foot of snow. Our street was not plowed til afternoon of the second day. When I went out on the fourth day, I had trouble getting out of a parking lot because of ice.

I spent this morning hauling wood to our covered porch because another storm is predicted to arrive tonight. There is still a foot of snow on parts of the yard.

The storm may not last 3 days, but I'll be home, warm and cozy, because I don't need to go out.

-- Sally Strackbein (Reston, VA) (, January 29, 2000.

Just Curious:

Depends on where you live. The longest three day storm that I remember was when I was a child. Couldn't get out for 3 weeks [At the time, I loved it; read no school]. These things present a problem if you live in the mountains; but then, I put up with them rather than endure the traffic and stress in the city. It just depends on what you want to endure.

Best wishes,,

-- Z1X4Y7 (, January 29, 2000.

Consider yourself very lucky. I was on the Eastern Shore in Md with that storm, main roads were blocked for 4 days. 3 days Storm lol ask the people in NC about hurricane Floyd or the people in Homestead about Andrew! Floyd missed us, some areas were still flooded and without power for a month. Never be unprepared

-- AWDragon (, January 29, 2000.

JC -- Survived hurricane Dora back in the 60s (my boss who lived directly on the beach, lost most of his front yard facing the ocean). Even though we lived within a mile or so of the downtown area, we were without power for almost two weeks. We ended up cooking every- thing on our charcoal grill. Fortunately, the weather was still warm, so taking cold showers wasn't so bad.

If we get another bad hurricane in our area, we will be more prepared this time due to our Y2k preps. Statistically, we're due for another hit. Hope I'm wrong.

April -- Your post is great. Says it all. I agree, prepping is a state of mind.

-- Lurkess (Lurkess@Lurking.Net), January 29, 2000.

Well, here in Cleveburgh we get em about every 3 or 4 years. Mom in Central NY get's em about every 5 years, We have seen em about every 3 years in Va. Beach, etc. In Northern NY we saw them about every 4 years. Depends on whether you are lucky enough to be there when they happen. (Note: Not all of these happened on the same years)


-- Chuck, a night driver (, January 29, 2000.

Our storm came in on Monday night, five days ago. My husband was able to make it into work--very gingerly--on Friday afternoon for a couple of hours. On Thursday afternoon, suffering from cabin fever and worrying about running out of beer, he went to Kroger. He reported no milk, bread or eggs; produce and meat counters picked over, just the dregs left.

One of the cats developed an infection and we had to venture out to the vet today--the fifth day. With the exception of interstates, even the major arteries have some serious compacted snow and/or thick ice. Kroger being next door to the vet, I popped in and had a look. Hardly any produce. I spotted the produce manager and said, "Looks like a plague of locusts went through." He said he had been promised a delivery at 11 a.m. but it was now 2 p.m. and still no word. The meat, poultry and fish counters were similarly depleted. There was little milk, no eggs (and few packs of EggBeaters), no sour cream, cottage cheese, butter or margarine; sausage and ham almost gone, no bacon. There was a little cheese. Potato chips, sugar and bread were cleaned out. All shelves showed major gaps, some more than others, such as soups, canned fruit, canned meats, stews, chili, et., and cake, pancake and bread mixes. Pet food was in very short supply; there was no bird seed. Paper towels and toilet paper were almost gone. There were no firestarters or firewood. I didn't check OTC meds or baby food but I have no reason to suppose they were in any better shape.

My neighbor tells a similar tale about Harris Teeter and her sister-in-law had the same to say about Winn-Dixie. (These four stores, including the two different Kroger stores, are in four different areas of the city.) I know some gas stations had run out of gas a day or two ago but I don't know if they have been resupplied.

An ice storm is forecast for tonight and tomorrow with "significant" ice accumulation on trees and power lines. If the forecast proves accurate, I don't see many deliveries being made in the next few days. It will be interesting.

Prior to this snowstorm, the only experience I have had with long-lasting storm aftermaths were Hurricane Floyd (which dreadfully affected all of eastern N. Carolina but caused us little inconvenience), Hurricane Fran a few years ago, an ice storm in Little Rock around 1975, Hurricane Camille in 1969, a major snowstorm around 1964 in southern England, another in 1959 in the Midlands, and a crippling snow event in 1947 which affected the whole of Britain.

Some historians have postulated that the relatively mild weather the world has experienced over the last fifty years is about to or is at an end. They postulate that this temperate weather has been an aberration and that the normal expectation is for more severe weather; certainly the weather in Britain has been much worse in the last ten years. That hypothesis has been a factor in my preparations.

-- Old Git (, January 29, 2000.

P.S. The older I get, the more carefully I prepare :)

-- Old Git (, January 29, 2000.

Older and wiser!

-- jeile (, January 29, 2000.

"The value of an insurance plan is the amount that you are protected for times the probability it will be used. If, like jeile, the power went out for days annually, a generator is useful. If the power only goes out incredibly rarely, it most likely is a waste of money (except for camping trips)."

Actually, Just Curious, not true. If the power only goes out "incredibly rarely" and the loss of power is not threatening (life, health, or property), you're right.

The equation isn't confined to the probability of the event happening, but also to the risk that occurs if the event does happen.

Power losses in excess of an hour or two are quite common, even in the US of A. Simply depends on where you live. May you continue to be fortunate.

-- rocky (rknolls@no.spam), January 29, 2000.

And, shame on you, OG, I'd have thought that as well prepared as you were you'd have cat antibiotics on hand (grin)

-- rocky (rknolls@no.spam), January 29, 2000.

rocky: agreed- If I were on life support or something, you better BELIEVE I would have a generator on hand. As it is, an hour with no electricity is an hour where I couldn't read my email. In other words no biggie.

-- Just Curious (, January 29, 2000.

I live in the Northern Va./DC area. In 1994 or 1995 (can't remember which), we had snow and ice that had schools closed for 5 days. Then 2 weeks later we had another snow/ice storm that again closed schools for 5 days. The subdivision streets were covered in thick ice which couldn't be plowed --- that's why schools were closed for so long. I would have assumed that the Baltimore area would have had similar problems given that we usually have similar weather.

The past two years we've had very mild winters with minimal snow. But following the Jan. 1999 ice storm, parts of Montgomery County, MD lost power for 5-6 days (including my brother in Silver Spring, MD). I also recall many years with a 1-2 day snowstorm, afterwards it took several days for the snowplows to make it into the subdivisions (1979; the year the Air Florida plane crashed into the 14th STreet bridge in DC (early 1980s); other years too).

-- slza (, January 29, 2000.

Rocky, if the vet hadn't been open and not too far away, I would have given her some of the fish antiobiotics from my stash! Animal doctors are as reluctant as people doctors when you ask them for antiobiotics "just in case," so I failed to talk mine out of a stash. (However, I DID talk him out of six months of her hyperthyroidism medicine and I stashed the same of her kidney diet cat food and several tubes of antibiotic salve, plus other assorted vet meds and first-aid items.)

-- Old Git (, January 29, 2000.

You know, interestingly enough, our preps never included a generator. We reasoned that if the supply lines were interrupted or broken, we wouldn't be able to get fuel. Storing large amounts of gasoline in a semi-suburban area is not only potentially dangerous it is illegal, at least here.

No, our position was one of prudence from the get-go. We looked at the long range possibles - like not being able to get certain things and perhaps not being able to draw a salary. So, we spent the year getting rid of car payments and credit card debt. Then we bought supplies that we felt would see us through power outages. I spent the year in a learning curve - canning and the fine art of food storage being at the top of the agenda.

When the rollover came and went without much of a ripple, I sat back and reevaluated myself and the preps we chose to make. In every case, I could not find a single thing we had done that set us back or damaged our way of life. We are, in fact, so much improved that I could never go back to the precarious life we lived before.

As I type this we are covered in ice again. We still have our power, unlike last weekend, but I know, after the test of last weekend without our power for 36 hours, we can hold our own. Great feeling. In fact - it is a comfort that far outweighs the entire last year of getting here.

-- April (, January 30, 2000.

There are only 2 purchases my bride and I have ANY discussion about (as to propriety) ONE is the genny (but how else am I supposed to make sure the batt's are charged that we got to run the UPS's and inverters??) and the grain mill. Gee 800 out of about 6.5 G's. (food, fuel, tools, seeds, etc.)

'Course SHE hasn't looked at the actual number of dollars in the basement/pantry, so she hasn't seen the actual cost. Though she IS beginning to suspect SOMETHING as the paychecks in Jan went WAY farther than they did in Sept and Oct.

and i HAVE NOT started to eat into the pantry without replacement.


-- Chuck, a night driver (, January 30, 2000.


The three day thing is based partly on custom and partly on the length of time you can reasonably have to expect to wait before some form of outside aid (government, NGO's, etc.) will reach the area and get set up.

For most weather events a three day stash will get you through which is why it's the one most often recommended. It's the least burdensome to prepare. It is, however, the bare minimum in terms of preparedness. In my opinion you'd be much, much better off to prepare for a fourteen day period which will then get you through nearly all other weather disruptions. There will still be those events like the flooding in the Carolinas, Hurricane Andrew in Dade County, Hurricane Hugo in Charleston and others where even that won't be enough. Probability of one happening to you is remote but the chance is there.

Personally, I prepare for six months but weather is not the only thing I am concerned with even if weather has been the one thing that has caused me to need my preps time and again.

We had a very rare event here in Gainesville, FL back in 1989 and that was a severe ice storm. I only lost power for 12 hours which would have been no big deal since I had a wood stove but my pipes froze and burst during that period. Power came back on the next morning but it was two weeks before I had running water in the house. Were it not for that wood stove I'd have been in a shelter somewhere. I've done the shelter thing once, I found it very distasteful and won't ever repeat the experience if I can possibly help it.

As April said, preparedness is a state of mind which really comes down to risk aversion. With a wife and a baby daughter to be responsible for I grow more risk adverse every year. The baby won't care that the chance we'd lose power and water was remote, she's only going to know that she's cold and hungry.


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-- A.T. Hagan (, January 31, 2000.

Uh, Curious, I think you forgot something......

THE GOVERNMENT told us to prepare for a "THREE DAY" winter storm.....though most people, as planned I suspect, failed to do anything at all, since as you pointed out, an actual storm usually passes by in 18-24 hours of actual snowfall or high winds. Even hurricanes themselves pass over in 20 hours, with 2 days of increasing wind before.

It's the aftermath, the recovery back to normal distribution and services, that takes much longer....and even then, many people recover faster (12-24 hours) than the "three day" limit of 72-96 hours.

Regardless, the recent weather has shown me that any prudent preparations made against the uncertainities of y2k-induced failures were/are/remain useful and practical.

Why? Are you arguing that no preparations should have been made since there are no three day storms in the lower 48 states?

-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Marietta, GA) (, January 31, 2000.

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