A Family Adventure

Tyson, Emilie & Isaac

Snow, Power outage, and Thanksgiving

November 29, 2014
Emilie Phillips

We had our first significant snow of the season. It started Wednesday morning as rain, turned to snow by the afternoon and by Thanksgiving morning the ground was covered with 9 inches. Wednesday around 5pm, the power flickered a few times, so I hurried to make dinner. Not long after we finished eating dinner, the power went out for good, accompanied by bright flashes down the road.

One of my neighbors had asked to borrow a crock pot for Thanksgiving, so I decided to head over and see how they were doing. The snow was falling so thickly that my headlamp just blinded me. The neighbors had their generator and fireplace going and were enjoying an evening with mutual friends. So we called up Tyson and invited him and Isaac over to hang out too. When it finally came time to go home for the night, apparently it took the other friends an hour and a half to drive what would normally be 5 minutes to their house because of all the downed trees and power lines.

Thus started the many day routine of swapping propane tanks on the generator in the middle of the night, multiple times per day, worrying about how much we needed by when, and multiple trips per day to the hardware store for refills. Thanksgiving proper was the worst because we started with partial bottles and nothing was open. Luckily the rest of Tyson’s family had power and spare bottles.

Thanksgiving dinner over at Tyson’s folks was good. Isaac entertained himself with his cousins. They had received 15″ of snow, but fluffier, and no downed trees or power outages.

Friday, between Isaac coming down with a fever and tending the generator, we did not do much, similarly Saturday. It was not until Saturday evening that the power finally came back on. Three whole days without power.

The main reasons we need the generator are to run the solar hot water pump during the day so the glycol-water mix doesn’t boil, to heat the hot tub at night so pipes don’t freeze, and to run the well pump and refrigerator. We keep pondering the idea of adding a photovoltaic panel and switching the hot water pump to a DC system so we wouldn’t have to worry about the solar fluid. If we rigged up a thermometer under the hot tub, we could tell if we really needed to heat it. So that would leave us with the refrigerator and well pump. Those could be supported by just running the generator occasionally, which is much less of a pain in the neck. Since moving in, we have had several multi-day outages, so it may be worth reducing our dependency on the generator.