Wednesday, June 12, 2013

How to Prepare For a Derecho (or Other Such Storms)

Here we go again.

If you were a reader of this blog a year ago, you know that we  were smack in the middle of a weird storm in which we temporarily lost our patio table and a few other things and we were without power for six long, very hot days.

Seconds before the derecho hit.

It was a Friday, June 29th, mid-afternoon and a wall of wind seemingly came out of nowhere and wreaked havoc over the upper Midwest all the way to the east coast. They told us this was a relatively unusual type of storm and up to that point, most of us had never even heard of a derecho.

June 29, 2012

Derecho, when used as an adverb, is Spanish for "in a straight line."  In meteorologic terms, a derecho is widespread, long-lived, straight-line windstorm that is associated with a fast-moving band of severe thunderstorms.  Winds are 60+ mph, but can typically be as high as 100-125 mph, and are sustained for at least six hours. 

Though we had damage, we were more fortunate than a lot of people. You can read about last year's derecho and the effect it had here at Our Little Acre here and here.

Last year, we had very little to no warning as to what was coming.  Today, they've given us plenty of time to prepare for what could be a similar storm later this evening. Based on what we experienced last year, this is what we recommend to minimize possible damage:

  • Just look around your yard and outside your house to see what might get blown around.  If it's not very heavy or isn't secured, you never know where it's going to end up after a storm like this.

  • Take down hanging plants, bird feeders, bird houses, wind chimes, hammocks, porch swings, and other lightweight hangers.  We just laid ours on the ground near their original location.  If they're too lightweight, take them in.

  • Turn your patio table upside down if possible, to reduce the surface area to the wind.  Do the same with benches and chairs.  Take down patio umbrellas.

  • Move potted plants and planters inside or close to the leeward side of the house (the side protected from prevailing winds).  In our case, which is probably true for you too, this means we put them close to the house on the east side.

  • If you have awkward or somewhat heavy planters that can't be moved, water them well to give them added weight to help hold them in place better.

  • Tie trellises, arbors and tuteurs down so that they don't get knocked over and possibly uproot the climbers on them. (Yes, we learned this from experience.)

  • Lilies and alliums are either blooming or close to it, and a derecho could knock those flat.  If you have a way to stake tall plants like these, do it.

  • Unplug outdoor electrical items such as fountains or lighting.

  • If you have a pile of mulch in your driveway (like we do) either wet it down well, or get it put on your garden and then wet it down.  Dry mulch will disappear in a storm like this.

  • Bring outside pets inside, if possible.  This is a scary thing for them, too.

  • Fill containers with drinking water just in case you lose power and be sure you have fresh batteries for flashlights and matches for candles.  If you do lose power, do NOT open your refrigerator or freezer so that they can stay as cold as possible for as long as possible until power is restored. 

    Of course, six days without power last year for us meant that we lost those things that we couldn't transfer to our daughter and son-in-law's freezer.  With food, if in doubt, throw it out.

The best scenario would be that we get some rain and no wind. But this year, we have a Troy-bilt generator, so hopefully, if we do lose power, we can still run necessary things like the refrigerator/freezer.  And my laptop.


Anonymous said...

Oh I do hope there's no damage and people stay safe. I'd certainly take your advice if I were in the area.

Jim said...

Actually, the best thing to do with patio furniture is to throw it in the pool. Really.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I hope you had no damage this time.

RobinL said...

Thankfully, the derecho turned out to be not much this time. But a few days later, a freak but fierce storm hit our area and took off the top of my beloved Forest Pansy redbud. There was only a small area that got hit, so it was odd, but I was here and I know it was a nasty one.

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