Derechos and heat waves: a weekend minipocalyse
This weekend provided the populations of a large part of the Midwest, Southeast, and Mid Atlantic with an “apocalypse tasting session”. In addition to extreme heat, millions also felt the wrath of a powerful thunderstorm system known as a derecho.
Derechos, which are common in the Midwest and Great Lakes regions, are huge thunderstorms with high wind speeds that move along the jet stream, allowing them to wreak havoc across a large portion of the country. The aftermath of the storms left millions without power, many of who will have to wait up to a week for the lights and AC to come back on.
Severe damage to public infrastructure systems also occurred, giving area residents a small taste of what might occur in a full apocalyptic scenario. There are several lessons that can be learned from this experience and applied to your survival plan.
First, always have water. EVERYONE should, at the minimum, have sufficient water supplies to get through the weekend without relying on tap water. This is the bare minimum and will get you through situations such as hurricanes or the one some Maryland residents are currently experiencing when the thunderstorm knocked out power to the local water treatment plant. Imagine not being able to drink tap water for a few days. If you don’t have a back-up supply, good luck fighting it out with everyone else at CVS/Safeway/Giant for those last few bottles of water.
Second, Twitter is an excellent resource for information in an emergency. I was able to track the storm in real time by following the tweets from my area. It was also useful to assess the damage when making plans Saturday and figuring out which areas of the city to avoid. Identify the appropriate people in your area (e.g. local news stations, weather center, emergency alert system) and start following them now. It will be much easier than trying to remember what to search for in the middle of a disaster
Lastly, know how to get cool when the AC fails. This weekend was literally the perfect recipe for disaster with heat indexes over 105 and millions without power. I will admit that I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to heat, but I think we can all agree this is a potentially dangerous situation. Knowing where to go if your AC fails is necessary to surviving summers on this coast. This requires a plan for the short-term (mall, museum, movie theatre, friend’s house, etc.) and the long (bugging out, relatives out of town, basement if you’re lucky). Here I need to practice what I preach and get a little better at surviving without AC and sans heat stroke. I do realize there’s a very good chance my central AC system won’t survive the big one. Time to get working on an alternative cooling strategy.