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April 02, 2015

B is for Blizzard and Blackout


My theme for my 2015 A to Z Challenge came from my Disaster Crimes series. Disasters are a theme in each story, so it got me thinking about all the disasters that occur from natural disasters to manmade disasters.

Today’s disasters are...
BLIZZARDS and BLACKOUTS

First, I’ll discuss blizzards as part of my avalanche post for A.

A BLIZZARD is a severe snowstorm that typically lasts for three hours or more. Frequent snow fall combined with wind of 35 mph or greater reduces visibility (this is known as a whiteout), making driving and even venturing outdoors dangerous. Sleet and freezing rain can make matters worse when you’re traveling. And blizzards can cause snowdrifts (huge mountains of snow) that you may not see until you run into one. Snowdrifts can get so big that they can bury houses and trap residents inside for days.

FACT: The Storm of the 20th Century took place in March 1993, causing 300 deaths and 10 million power outages.

Blizzards are very dangerous if you’re caught outside in one. Low wind chill (the amount of cooling one “feels” due to wind and temperature) can result in frostbite and hypothermia. Even If you’re safe indoors, heavy snowfall can cave in roofs, freeze pipes, and snap power lines, which will take out your electricity and heat. If you’re trapped inside a house, waiting for the snowdrifts to melt, food and water may run low.


FACT: A severe blizzard has near or below zero temperature.

If you’re ever stuck in a blizzard outside:
1.    Stay hydrated and well nourished.
2.    Keep moving to avoid hypothermia.
3.    Build a snow cave to block the wind.
4.    NEVER drink snow! (It'll freeze your insides if you can't warm it.)

If there is a blizzard warning, stock up on non-perishable food, bottled water, blankets, candles and matches.


A BLACKOUT is a total loss of power to an area due to a power station tripping, and is the most extreme form of power outage that can ever occur. It is difficult to recover from this type of outage and it can last anywhere from minutes to weeks. In a blackout, whole cities are impacted.

At night, it becomes so dark without the glow of streetlights, buildings and cars that it can appear pitch-black, as if a cloak is covering the city. Blackouts are dangerous because if they last for days, food and clean water can run low. Crimes also spike.


QUESTION: Has anyone here ever been in a blizzard or blackout? 
Tell me about it!


Disasters:
B: Blizzard and Blackout


I'ma member of Tremp's Troops!

139 comments:

nashvillecats2 said...

Excellent "B" post Chrys, most graphic and interesting to read.

Unknown said...

That one with the house from New York looks like my backyard from this past winter. Every year I ask myself why I live here. :)

Unknown said...

I live close to the Tropic of Capricorn, so do not experience snow. These pics are great to view. They give a real perspective of what it would be like.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

When I lived in the Midwest, we experienced blizzards often. I remember once the snowdrift came up to the roof and covered our sliding glass doors.

Pat Hatt said...

We had a few this year and thankfully I didn't lose power.

Chrys Fey said...

Thanks, Yvonne. :)

Chrys Fey said...

I don't know how you could do it, Melanie. Brrr!

Chrys Fey said...

I enjoyed hunting down good pictures to go with each post. :)

Chrys Fey said...

Oh my! I'd be terrified if that happened to me. And a little excited, I think. lol

Chrys Fey said...

That's good! Losing power during a blizzard is the worst. Or so everyone says. I've never experienced one.

Cherdo said...

The snow storms of my teen years were consistently blizzard-ish. The weather has definitely changed in the Northeast. I'm in TN now, and they call a dusting a bad snow and they lose power way more often then I ever remember it happening up north.

Chrys Fey said...

Yikes! And I've been thinking about moving to North Carolina. Maybe I need to rethink that. ;)

Sarah Foster said...

I'm still looking at the snow from this winter's blizzards! Luckily I've never been caught outside in one, though.

Tasha Duncan-Drake said...

I've never been in a blizzard - it just doesn't do that around here in Kent, however, I do remember a total blackout. After the hurricane of 1987 we had no power in our village for over a week. The whole community pulled together, those with gas cooking and heating water for those who were all electric.
Tasha
Tasha's Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)

Unknown said...

Wow, very interesting!

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I've been in a blizzard. Grew up on a farm and we still had to take care of the cows, milk them and try to keep the lane open. Even got frostbite.
The longest we've gone without power in our current home was about a day and a half.

Lidy said...

Been in both. There used to be a lot of black outs and power outages in Haiti. But it never bothered people. They'd just break out the candles and hang out on the porch/veranda. A blackout happened when I was a teen in NYC once and had to walk 10+ blocks home from my friend's house. Good thing it happened during the day. But I don't mind blizzards really (but can't stand the cold) BC at least I get a snow day BC of it.

Stephanie Bird said...

Yes, unfortunately I've experienced a blizzards and blackouts. I find these posts very interesting Chrys. With all the facts you share, these conditions and events could be tucked into a story, wisely. Thanks.

cleemckenzie said...

I can only imagine stand on snow so deep I'm at the top of a power pole!

Julie Flanders said...

When I was a kid we had a blizzard (the same year as the New York pic) and that was very unusual for Cincinnati. Of course, since I was only 9 I loved it. The main thing I remember is we only had to go to school for half a day because a nearby school had no power so we shared our building with them. I thought that was about the most awesome thing ever ha.

Cross Planes said...

I was very, very young at the time, but I remember it being so cold we all gathered around our furnace in the basement and my parents quietly worried about it giving out.

Sophie Duncan said...

No Blizzards here in sleepy southern England, but we have had a blackout. We had a hurricane in 1987, something the UK was totally unprepared for, and it took out our power for a week. Luckily we had gas to cook with.
Sophie
Sophie's Thoughts & Fumbles
FB3X
Wittegen Press

Jeremy [Retro] said...

Weather is sometimes the most basic thing we forget that is can hold us all in one place.. without it trying to hard.

Jeremy [Retro]
AtoZ Challenge Co-Host [2015]

There's no earthly way of knowing.
Which direction we are going!

HOLLYWOOD NUTS!
Come Visit: You know you want to know if me or Hollywood... is Nuts?

Jennifer Hawes said...

I'd much rather experience a blackout due to thunderstorms etc than a blizzard any day!

Lisa Thomson said...

A blizzard would make a great setting for suspense or a love story. I've been in a few blizzards having lived on the Canadian Prairies for over 20 years. I've driven in a white out (never again!) and was afraid for my life. Blackouts are scary. Remember when 1/2 of New York experience black out with the hurricane? Great tips on survival of each, Chrys.

Mike said...

Been through plenty of blizzards. I remember the blizzard of 93 that you mentioned. I was in the mountains of southern West Virginia at the time. Now I live in Florida so no more blizzards.

Unknown said...

Goodness, those pictures look so dreadful! I pray I never get caught in a blizzard. And I had no idea you can "drink" snow. Yikes!

Unknown said...

Interesting post. Blackout is the order of the day in Nigeria. Almost every home has a generator for night time use. Even the "poor" have the ones that just gives light at night, no refrigerator or electrical appliances. We call it 'I better pass my neigbour'

Carrie-Anne said...

There was a huge, famous blizzard in Albany, NY on 4 October 1987, shortly after my family had moved into our new house. We get brutal winters, but we hadn't gotten a blizzard that early before. Every winter, I'm tempted by my aunt's repeated offer to move to Florida to be near her.

Unknown said...

Great post! I've been in a couple of each over the years. The first blizzard I remember was when I was 4. Woke to 3 feet of snow! It was amazing. We used to keep candles our Coleman lantern handy due to black outs. They never lasted long, but they happened a lot.

Dixie@dcrelief said...

Pa. in a whiteout was scary! I stopped and stayed out at a weight for hours.

Dixie@dcrelief said...

Should say: ...stayed at a weight station for hours.

Patricia said...

Great post ~ each of those photos tell quite a story. Southern Ontario has had some horrific ice storms in the past few years, accompanied by long power shortages ... weeks, not just days! Mother Nature is not always good to us!

Margo Kelly said...

What a great theme! I have been in a blizzard but never a blackout.

Anonymous said...

The last major blizzard here was in 2004. Roofs were collapsing. We've had a few blackouts. Ugh. They're awfully scary, especially at night.

Patsy said...

Brrrrr!

E. Arroyo said...

I haven't experienced those conditions, though this year it felt like a blizzard with those cold temps and snow.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Chrys - I wrote about our snows that lasted for 10 weeks and we had blizzards then .. we must have had power blackouts - though I don't remember that .. the snow was dreadful .. and I was ill - so was late going back to school - but everyone was much hardier then - in the early 60s ..

We can have white outs down here - had one when Mum was alive .. it all came down in an hour .. completely couldn't see - only six inches but that was enough in an hour .. and I just managed to get home ... it was April so it wasn't too cold.

Horrifying experience .. either of them!

Cheers Hilary

A Tarkabarka Hölgy said...

Never been in either (had short blackouts sometimes but never longer than an hour or so). I really hate the cold (maybe I shouldn't be in Ohio...), and a blizzard is something I'd never want to experience.

@TarkabarkaHolgy from
Multicolored Diary - Epics from A to Z
MopDog - 26 Ways to Die in Medieval Hungary

Anonymous said...

Psssh, blizzard is what we call winter in Upper Michigan. ;)

~Patricia Lynne aka Patricia Josephine~
Member of C. Lee's Muffin Commando Squad
Story Dam
Patricia Lynne, Indie Author

Liz A. said...

No blizzards around this part of the country. Not days-long blackouts, but blackouts that happen for a couple hours, yes. Still remember the rolling blackouts of a decade or so ago.

Stephen Tremp said...

I grew up in Michigan so I love a good snowstorm. The more the better.

Nicola said...

Good luck with the A-Z challenge. Great B post!! Also, heartfelt thanks to you for posting all your writing tips - specifically the editing tips. They were a great help to me, resulting in a much tighter written first novel. All the best.

diedre Knight said...

The very thought makes me shiver! I'll take sunshine anytime :-) Well done, Chrys!

Jeffrey Scott said...

Never caught in a blizzard yet. Not unless you count the times they refused to cancel school when I was a youth for snowy conditions. If I ever were to be caught in a blizzard, I'd hope there would be a Tauntaun and lightsaber handy.

I've been pretty fortunate with blackouts as well. However, once touring a cavern the tour guide took us to the deepest part we could possibly go and then turned out all the lights. Absolute darkness can be quite disorienting.

J.H. Moncrieff said...

We have a blizzard going on right now, but it's pretty tame. In Canada, we're so used to them that they normally don't result in fatalities. In rural areas, blackouts are common, but thankfully don't last very long.

Chrys Fey said...

The snow is still there. Wow!

Chrys Fey said...

I've experienced power outages from hurricanes. They are not fun.

Chrys Fey said...

Thanks, Anne!

Chrys Fey said...

Frostbite? Ouch! I wouldn't do well in places that get hit hard in the winter.

Chrys Fey said...

I love that! When there were power outages due to storms when I was a kid, we'd bring out the candles and burn marshmallows. :)

Chrys Fey said...

Oh yes. I got a lot of ideas for stories with these posts. ;) I'm glad you find them interesting.

Chrys Fey said...

Wouldn't that be something?

Chrys Fey said...

I would've thought that was fun too. Haha.

Chrys Fey said...

I can only image their fear.

Chrys Fey said...

No blizzards here in Florida either, but plenty of blackouts due to hurricanes. I had no power for a week once, too. It was crazy!

Chrys Fey said...

Weather is a force not to be reckoned with.

Chrys Fey said...

Me too!

Chrys Fey said...

Yes, it would. Oh gosh, whiteouts are so dangerous. Good thing you survived that! I sure do remember that. I was watching the news about the New York blackout.

Chrys Fey said...

I'm in Florida too. Good thing, because I wouldn't do well in a blizzard.

Chrys Fey said...

As long its melted and warmed, you can.

Chrys Fey said...

That's fascinating. I couldn't image needing a generator at night, but if I grew up there it wouldn't be a big thing.

David P. King said...

Can't say I've ever been in a blizzard. Can't say I want to after reading this. :)

Chrys Fey said...

In Florida, you'd only have to deal with the extreme heat. lol

Chrys Fey said...

You were four and you remember that? I can't remember anything from when I was four. Haha!

Chrys Fey said...

I can imagine how scary that would be.

Chrys Fey said...

Mother Nature does what she wants. She's a fierce one.

sage said...

You could add "buzzards and bats" Nice post.

Chrys Fey said...

Thanks, Margo!

Chrys Fey said...

Blackouts are worst at night.

Chrys Fey said...

You can say that again!

Chrys Fey said...

I'm sure it did.

Chrys Fey said...

Being sick during blizzards would be terrible!

Chrys Fey said...

I'd never want to experience a blizzard either, and thankfully won't in Florida.

Chrys Fey said...

Ha! I was born in Michigan but was raised in Florida. My dad lives there now though and tells me all about the winters up there.

Chrys Fey said...

A blackout is still a blackout no matter how long it lasts. :)

Chrys Fey said...

I was born in Michigan but my family moved down to Florida when I was two, so I don't remember the snow.

Suzanne said...

Um, never been in either so I am just saying hello and waffling lol! (Quite happy not to ever been in one either!) x

Chrys Fey said...

Thank you, Nicola! And you're so very welcome. I love to help other writers as much as I can. The fact that my tips have helped you with your manuscript makes me very happy. :)

Chrys Fey said...

Sunshine is nice. :)

Chrys Fey said...

A lightsaber in a blizzard. lol That would be fun. ;)

Chrys Fey said...

Really? Wow. I didn't know Canada was experiencing a blizzard right now. I can see where Canadians would be used to them.

Chrys Fey said...

I don't blame you, David.

Chrys Fey said...

But buzzards and bats don't go with my theme. lol

Chrys Fey said...

That's good! And "hello" back. :)

betty said...

Never was in a blizzard, got a lot of snow when we lived in Montana, but never blizzard conditions like described here.

Yep, blackout back in 2011 when we lived in San Diego. Some person flipped the wrong switch or something like that and wiped out power for all of San Diego County, some of Orange County (right above San Diego County) and to parts of Arizona. It took about 24 hours to completely restore power. They could only bring back a few grids at a time to not overload the system. We were out for about 21 hours. Lesson learned....eat ice cream first. It was the hottest day of August, LOL, and we thought it wouldn't be off for that long, even after we heard the news about what happened. Of course the ice cream melted, even in the freezer, had to be thrown away. Next time ice cream gets eaten!

betty

sage said...

Yes, you're right, I was thinking more haunted than disaster/crime scenes, but the buzzards would be there after the scene to clean it up!

J E Oneil said...

Blizzards, ugh. I've had enough of those for a lifetime, and that's just talking about this winter. Once a few years ago, there was actually a blizzard that caused a blackout! It was very cold and we couldn't use the refrigerator (although we could put the cold items outside in the snow).

Nick Wilford said...

Weather can be so brutal, especially snow. I've had street-wide blackouts, but not whole city ones. I imagine chaos would reign!

Alana said...

I grew up in New York City and survived both the 1965 blackout (I was 12) and several blizzards (and a hurricane). Living in upstate New York, I've been through several more major snowstorms, including the storm of March, 1993.

djinnia said...

Was in a three day blackout in the middle of winter. There was no heat or stove until they replaced the power pole that broke and burned.

Mary Kirkland said...

I've never been in a blizzard because I only spent one year in West Virginia and that winter while it was snowy it wasn't a blizzard. Now I have been in a couple of short term blackouts. Here in Las Vegas we have flash floods in the summer time where the rain will come down really hard for an hour and flood out places. It also knocks out the power at times. The longest power outage we had was 3 days. Last year we had a loss of power for 2 hours a total of three times last summer. I keep ice blocks in my freezer to keep my rats cool, bottles of water in a cabinet and canned food in the bottom of the closet just in case the power is out for more than a few hours.

Anonymous said...

I've been in a blackout (in a city) that lasted for more than a day. The interesting thing is it actually brought the community closer together. People eating together and watching the stars and helping direct traffic. Who knows what would have happened if it went on, but it was an eye-opener.

Melissa Sugar said...

I'm so glad I found your blog. I love your theme. I write crime fiction and this is a unique spin on the topic . I've never considered a natural disaster for my story but I should. I've never been in a blizzard or a blackout but have been in a hurricane . We evacuated just in the nick of time before Katrina. My A to Z theme is crime fiction also

Joanne Sisco said...

Unfortunately I'm well acquainted with both blizzards and black-outs. Neither are fun ... especially when the black-out occurs during arctic temperatures. Brrrr.

Stephanie Faris said...

I think 1993 was the year we got the really bad ice storm in Nashville. Ice formed on a lot of power lines and power went out for people for weeks. I'd love to have a backup generator in case that ever happens again.

Rhonda Albom said...

Too scary events. Growing up in Chicago we had several blizzards. I never knew that time was a factor in the definition. Now we live at the end of a peninsula in New Zealand, and we have frequent black outs.

Tammy Theriault said...

I love blackouts and have no love for blizzards! And much love for you ;)

Unknown said...

I've been in several blackouts over the years. Too many to keep track of really, lol. Though I haven't been in a blizzard yet. The photo you shared of the man standing next to a power line is pretty intense. I've been in below zero temperatures but hope I never ever see that much snow fall. Yikes! Thanks for sharing, Chrys.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

In the '93 blizzard, we lost our power. Fortunately, we had wood for our fireplace. One great thing about modern blizzards...we have plenty of time to prep (and buy all the bread and milk from the grocery store)

Scribbles From Jenn said...

Not many blizzards in So. Cal., but I was in the 1994 earthquake and we lost all power everywhere. Scary!!!

Scribbles From Jenn - Visiting from A to Z Challenge

Unknown said...

I didn't know you can't eat snow!!!! I grew up in MA and feel I should have known that. At least I know it now, thank you!

You can find me here:
ClarabelleRant;

Denise Covey said...

Hi Chrys

The only time I've been in a blizzard is on a train travelling from Luxembourg to Brussels. I was so excited, rushing from one side of the train to the other snapping away. Got some great pics. The locals on the train shook their heads, well used to such extremes.

We get blackouts in Australia during thunderstorms which can be pretty fierce here in the sub-tropics. Was out 3 days once after a severe hailstorm. Not fun, but luckily the council allowed everyone to leave their rotting food on the footpath and they came by and collected it all.

Enjoy the challenge!

Denise :-)

Elizabeth Mueller said...

Thanks for dropping by my blog and leaving a comment! Yay! I'm now officially your follower. Why not drink snow? I eat it sometimes. (Looks like scary stuff, though!)

Elizabeth Mueller
AtoZ 2015
My Little Pony

Unknown said...

Never faced a drastic blizzard in the 4 years we have been in the US. Although my hubby and I got experience the same set of problems in 2012 when we were working in different cities and the hurricane - Sandy arrived. I wasn't able to reach him since there was no power to charge his phone and our family back home was worried to know the impact.

Thanks for sharing Chrys. Your posts are so informational. :)

Empty Nest Insider said...

i remember the blizzard of '67 in Chicago, when our mom took my brother and me to the grocery store on a sled! I thought that you only weren't supposed to eat yellow snow!

Julie

Trisha said...

Reading about these two disasters definitely gives me ideas for scenes in stories! I think the blackout one for some reason really intrigues me, because blizzards have been done a lot in stories. Of course, I've never lived through a blizzard so I wouldn't mind at least being able to watch one from safe indoors (with a roof that won't collapse!).

Chrys Fey said...

Oh, yes, they would be.

Chrys Fey said...

I'd eat the ice cream too! ;)

Chrys Fey said...

I guess that's one good thing about snow during a blizzard.

Chrys Fey said...

Chaos would reign. You're right about that.

Chrys Fey said...

Those must make great stories.

Chrys Fey said...

That would be brutal. I've only experienced blackouts in the heat after a hurricane.

Chrys Fey said...

Rain that knocks out power must be a heavy downpour. Keeping ice, water, and canned goods on hand is a good idea!

Chrys Fey said...

Disasters often to bring communities closer. That's the oen good thing about them.

Chrys Fey said...

Aw, thank you, Melissa! I love your theme, too. It's very unique. I have also been in several hurricanes. That's how my Disaster Crimes series started. :)

Chrys Fey said...

A blackout with a blizzard would be horrible!

Chrys Fey said...

You can never go wrong with a back up generate.

Chrys Fey said...

Scary indeed.

Chrys Fey said...

Hehe! I have much love for you too. ;)

Chrys Fey said...

Thanks for stopping by, Lanise!

Chrys Fey said...

Time to prepare is important and something we didn't have back in the day.

Chrys Fey said...

Well, don't eat snow when you're stuck outside. It'll freeze your insides.

Chrys Fey said...

Earthquakes are frightening.

Chrys Fey said...

I would've been going crazy taking pictures too. ;)

That was nice of the council. No one wants rotting food in the house.

Chrys Fey said...

Don't drink/eat snow in a blizzard because of the extreme cold. The cold snow will freeze your insides.

Thanks for following my blog. :D

Chrys Fey said...

Hurricane Sandy was a beast!

Thanks for stopping by! :)

Chrys Fey said...

That would've been fun. :P

No yellow snow. Definitely not. You could eat snow, just not when you have no way to keep your body warm. Otherwise that snow will freeze your insides.

Chrys Fey said...

Blizzards are been done a lot. I had actually read a blizzard story when I got the idea for Hurricane Crimes, because I had never come across a story that took place during a hurricane.

Jane said...

In honor of the upcoming holiday of Passover, for B, the plague of BUGS and the plague of BOILS.

Chrys Fey said...

Boils...ick!

Michele at Angels Bark said...

I was in the Blizzard of '77 in Buffalo NY. What a storm that was. We were stuck inside for days, couldn't get out our front door because the snow drifts were so high. My brother who was working at GM was stuck in the plant for several days. When it was over, we ventured out and drove around town. Houses were completely buried and all you could see were the peaks of rooftops. Entire roads were nothing but snow drifts and completely impassable. While the storm was starting a state of emergency was declared and all vehicles were restricted from travel. The only means of transport were emergency snow-mobiles. It was insane. I live in Austin TX now and believe it or not, I miss the snow so much! I yearn to go back to Buffalo and be stuck in a blizzard again (tucked safely in a nice warm cozy home with family and good friends of course). :) Great post Chrys.
Michele at Angels Bark

Chrys Fey said...

Seeing houses buried, and being inside a house buried by snow, would be frightening.

Anonymous said...

I worked at the Bank of New York during the March 1993 storm. Even though we were released from work early (before noon), I didn't make it home until after dark. It was a mess.

I can't wait to read the rest of your posts for the month. I'm loving the theme. Have a great night! Hugs. Eva

Chrys Fey said...

It took you that long to get home? Geez! That sounds like mess.

Birgit said...

So back in 2003 we had a major blackout that actually originated in the states. Thankfully it was summer. Our power was out for 23 hrs. The nice thing is everyone was out on their porch talking and laughing. We had candles and coleman lamp and enjoyed ourselves. The picture from Buffalo-I was in that! That is the Blizzard of '77 and I was 13. It hit right after 10am-we lived in the country in Ontario but whatever Buffalo got so did we. We were very lucky as we did not lose our power but many people did. The snow was coming in sideways and it lasted , in my mind, about 3 days. We had a radio station on and they were asking people to call in if they needed anything for an emergency. People were out with their snowmobiles to rescue people from their cars and help out the elderly. At one point it became very calm and my dad took the car to go get their stupid cigarettes (ugh). He only made it halfway and had to walk the other 1/2 mile to get to the corner store. He made it back in time because the storm started up again. I know people died. My school had a flat roof and could not be found-it took 2 weeks to dig out the school(yahoo). The drifts were over the hydro wires so we would climb up and toboggan down just ducking under the wires. Some drifts were way over some pretty tall trees. There is a book called "White Death" to find out more

Chrys Fey said...

Wow! A few people said they were in that blizzard. How fascinating. Thanks for sharing your story, Birgit. :)

Bevimus said...

Been through both, many times. Thankfully never got trapped, though- THAT would be scary!

Chrys Fey said...

Getting trapped in a house during a blizzard would be very scary.