By: Chris Warren.

As I discussed in my last article, being ready for emergencies is not just for whackos. The other half of the equation is that a “disaster” does not have to come in the form of an epic 300 foot tidal wave or alien invasion.

Overnight, my territory in the upper Midwest USA got clobbered by about ten inches (25 cm) of snow, with about another 4-8 inches (10-20 cm) still to come before it’s over. The temperature, which is actually above freezing right now, is expected to drop to 5F (-15c) before sundown, then the high winds will kick in.

By local standards, this storm is not a particularly big deal. Yet there are people who will face serious weather-related problems that could have been entirely avoided with even a little planning. Already, I’ve had to give some gas to a guy up the road because he ran out and needed to fill the tank on his snowblower. This storm was predicted three or four days ago. Why didn’t he fuel up when he had the chance? I just don’t get it. There will be fatalities because of this storm.

The following is a pictorial account of my life during a snow storm. I took all the photos myself.


IMG_1042This photo was taken from my kitchen window. It looks very pretty and serene. But beyond the backyard things get rough.


IMG_1021This is as about as “plowed” as it’s going to get for a while. I saw very few cars on the road, only 4×4’s. Everyone else is stuck at home. Even in my big truck, it was a challenge getting around.

IMG_1041The temperature has dropped from almost 35F (1.6C) when this photo was taken about an hour ago to 31 (-0.5C) now. It also went from no wind to a modest breeze. I can’t get a wind speed because the weather instruments are frozen.  Strong winds are expected later today.

IMG_1040The weather alarm does not lie. It’s going to get worse before it gets better. As much as I trash on the government in this blog, I have to be fair and say NOAA and their network of radio stations is a very valuable and worthwhile public service.


IMG_1037IMG_1032It is not possible to overstate the importance of amateur radio in times of mayhem. It requires almost no special infrastructure and can be run on backup power. There are hundreds of thousands of amateur radio operators in the Unites States alone. None of them are paid for their services and nearly all supply their own equipment. When there are no cell towers, internet, or landline phones, ham radio is there. Always. It’s the ultimate  “mesh network” that is almost impossible to to take down. The top photo of UHF & VHF antennas is just a portion of my rooftop communications complex. The center photo is my HF (shortwave) radio capable of worldwide communications and a 75 watt 2-meter VHF radio, with a range of about 25-30 miles (40-48 km). The VHF is especially valuable when the public communications system goes down.  All of this equipment is powered by off-grid solar energy.


IMG_1046The snow covered angled items on the roof in the top photo are a few of my solar panels. The bottom photo is the charge controller for the solar power. The photo was taken during daylight but due to all the snow on the solar panels, the system thinks it it night time and shut itself down. The 12.8 volts on the battery means I have a good charge and should be ok…for now. We are not expected to have any real sun for a few days, so at some point I’ll probably have to change my batteries off the generator.

IMG_1048Sometimes life here can be a real pain in the ass, but it is a great feeling to be in a nation where I can make my own choices and fly or fall on my own. For my readers outside the USA, it is customary for Americans to display a flag on their homes. Flags are most often seen on patriotic holidays or in times of war, but at my house, the flag is out 24 hours a day, every day. It is the symbol of a land and people who are not easily beaten down.


5 thoughts on “SPECIAL EDITION: A Winter Storm.

  1. Wow, that looks like one heck of a snow storm, Chris.

    We’ve been hearing all about the snow storms in your part of the world and about the deadly heatwaves in Australia. It’s amazing how mother nature can be so different on the same day in different parts of the world.

    You are a brave man going out in that storm, but I would have probably done the same. That flag outside your home looks frozen stiff.

    Keep warm and stay safe. Chris.

    1. Thanks for your reply, Hugh.

      Here we get four distinct seasons and in the summer if can go well into the 90s F (32C). So we get a bit of everything. As far as going out in the storm, well, at some point you have to go out there and start digging. I also have family/friends in the area that depend on me to come through for them.

      Thanks again for all your kindness and encouragement!

      1. You’re most welcome, Chris. Your pictures of the snow are very good.

        So nice to hear that you go out and help others as well. I just knew you would be that kind of guy. Good to see you have a big vehicle to get around in. No riding around on a motorbike in that weather!

  2. I like the good tips you offer and the awareness of the importance of being prepared for anything. As a weather spoiled San Diegan, I don’t have much to fear about a snowstorm (although we did have a very rare one recently north of here that shutdown the freeways for hours!) but an earthquake or tidal wave(unlikely. It possible) could have the same devastating effects.

    1. Hi Tricia, and thanks for stopping by Twenty First Summer.

      As I mentioned in my January 31 article, “When Your Daily Bread Is Down To Crumbs,” (which I encourage you to read if you have not already) this really isn’t about snow, or even the weather. It’s about setting yourself up for any unforeseen interruption of modern life. What that exactly means varies widely depending on your personal circumstances. Everyone can do something to improve their chances of survival in an emergency. That is the main takeaway of my article.

      Thanks again for your feedback and I hope you’ll tell a friend about Twenty First Summer.

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