Lessons from the Derecho Storm

On June 29, 2012, Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, Ohio, Washington D.C. and the surrounding suburbs were devastated by 60-80 MPH straight-line winds called “derecho,” Spanish for straight. The term “derecho” is new to me; we always called them straight-line winds in the south. We lived through such winds blowing over 100 mph. Emergency crews from other states rushed in to help and power was restored within a week. The debris cleanup and repairs to property were much slower.

We survived because towns and zones within towns were connected via the now maligned patchwork of electricity delivery. Some people lost their power while others did not. We were able to survive with the help and kindness of those who still had electricity and the Red Cross.

The situation in the northeast this time, even with lower winds is quite different because many people are connected to the Smart Grid. Touted as a revolutionary way of replacing the old and antiquated patchwork of electricity delivery, the Smart Grid is a sitting duck to any cyber attack, solar flare, or EMP attack. Under the Smart Grid, we were told that areas could be shut off, protected from power surges, or potential disasters. It did not seem to work as well as promised. Utilities in Ohio, Virginia, and Maryland described damage to their power grids as catastrophic.”

We were lucky that we did not lose power in our area – our cables were buried underground. We were also lucky because we do not have Smart Meters yet. Electricity was not shut off by the Mother Ship from a remote location.

In spite of our vehement protests, the state utilities are hurrying the process to connect everyone to Smart Meters because it is cheaper for the power companies to shut off electricity during peak usage such as summertime heat or wintertime cold spells than to build new and expensive storage facilities for electricity. Utilities do not care if we suffer adverse health effects from Smart Meter radiation pulsing in our homes 24/7, or that they spy on customers, use and sell our information to third parties, our private daily living patterns, and invade our privacy without a warrant.

The Washington Post was quick to connect the heat wave and thunderstorms to climate change warming caused by human activity without offering any scientific proof. “As the intensity of the heat wave, without reservation, was a key factor in the destructiveness of this “derecho” event – it raises the question about the possible role of manmade climate warming.” Washington Post was referring to elevated greenhouse gases having caused “this rare, extraordinary event.”

I do not know how rare and extraordinary straight-line winds are in northern Virginia and Washington, D.C., but in the south, they are common. I could not help but wonder about the fad of using Spanish words in meteorology. I could have sworn that English was one of the more descriptive languages in the world.

On July 3, 2012, Washington Post had two separate articles in different sections of the paper, “Hot Enough for You? Extreme Weather: the harbinger of climate change” and “Concern about the climate change declines.”
A Washington Post-Stanford University poll cited revealed that only 18 percent of Americans name global warming as the number one threat. Could those polled be the same subjects as in Jay Leno’s basic knowledge interviewees who think America has 57 states?

“Still don’t believe in climate change? Then you are deep in denial or delirious from the heat. As I write this, the nation’s capital and its suburbs are in post-apocalypse mode,” says Eugene Robinson. I must have missed this apocalypse although I live in the same area. (Washington Post, “Hot Enough for You,” July 3, 2012)

I do believe in climate change however, based on real science, I believe that it is not caused by human activity and it has occurred throughout history even in times when human activity on an industrial scale was non-existent.

Spring was the hottest on record, Robinson claims. In reality, it was quite cold in the D.C. area, Maryland, and Virginia until this heat wave hit. Many varieties of flowers and shrubs are flowering now. They normally bloom in March or April.

Picking and choosing data from NASA to support the global warming bogus claim will not convince me that I need to destroy my standard of living just because some individuals with an agenda to gain from my misery and from selectively used manufactured scientific data demand so.

Newt Gingrich tweeted about the D.C. weather related events that it was a “mild taste of what an electro-magnetic pulse (EMP) attack would do.”

During the Virginia thunderstorm, 911 emergency service failed for 48 hours, and, because on Monday, millions were still without power, federal workers were allowed to take unscheduled leave. Eighty-five percent of customers lost power and several people were killed by falling trees. Governor McDonnell declared state of emergency in Virginia and brought in the National Guard to help restore power and remove debris. Some customers, who had purchased natural gas generators for emergencies but did not test them for A/C use, were shocked when the generators caught fire.

It was painfully evident that nobody in the area was/is prepared for a potential disaster from a powerful storm, much less a solar flare, cyber attack, or an electro-magnetic pulse.

Pepco utility customers were extremely frustrated with their service. They were promised to have electricity by next Friday. Dominion Power in Virginia stated that 90-95 percent of customers would be restored to the grid by Thursday. Baltimore Gas and Electric repaired lines to 66 percent of customers by Monday afternoon.

It was interesting to witness on Saturday, the morning after the thunderstorm, how paralyzed the traffic and life in general were because stoplights were out on major roads and some businesses did not have power. Some groceries stores had electricity but their pharmacies were off-line because one down store linked to the grid took everybody else down. Prescriptions could not be filled. Cash registers were dark, people could not buy food because nobody knows anymore how to add and subtract without the help of a calculator. Inventories of food and merchandise are set up electronically. If the grid fries, our entire life comes to a halt and chaos rules. My favorite description would be “pandelirium.”

I went to a different grocery store today, three days after the thunderstorm, and they had some electricity, their freezers were out of commission, food was rotting, it did not smell very nice, it was very hot inside, and the people were acting like a mob possessed by the primal instinct of survival.

I am with Newt on this one, if 60-80 mph winds have caused so much havoc to our nation’s capital and its surrounding suburbs and states, are we really prepared for the massive, across the country, total power loss of a Smart Grid in the event of a solar flare, cyber attack, or an EMP? Images of “Mad Max” (the movie) of an apocalyptic world run through my head.

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