You can take that headline two ways: First, a massive storm is coming in from the Pacific and will bring a surprising amount of snow for this time of year to California before heading across the mountains and into the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest. There, the Pacific moisture will become a blizzard, leaving what forecasters are calling “pretty significant” snow across the Dakotas into Minnesota and Wisconsin. It’s a bit too early to be certain, but the snow could continue east, reaching the East Coast by next weekend.
Second, asking “Are you ready for the blizzard” is a much nicer way to ask if you are prepared for TEOTWAWKI than asking, “Are you ready for the zombie apocalypse?” You can mention it at work, at the dinner table, or in a crowd and no one will look at you funny. When you’re at Costco stocking up, your spouse can say, “Hey that would be good to have on hand during a blizzard,” and no one will think twice.
As this weather heads east, here are some preps to consider. (These are especially important for any Californians or others who have recently moved to Montana or Wyoming.)
If you have tire chains for your vehicle of choice, get them out of storage and put them in or on your vehicle. It might be worth trying to put them on just to be sure you haven’t forgotten how or that the bungee hasn’t dry rotted. Likewise, if you live somewhere where studded snow times are allowed, time to install them.
Make sure you have a 12-volt air compressor in case you have to air-down your tires because you’ll want to air them up again when you get on clear pavement. A tow rope might be a good idea as well. How else are you going to get out of the ditch?
Fill up the tank on your car and your generator, and make sure you have a few extra cans of fuel on standby. If you use kerosene or propane for back-up heat, check that your supplies are adequate. If you burn wood, this might be a good time to bring dry wood inside. We store extra firewood on a pallet in our garage so a heavy rain or snow won’t stop the woodstove. Yes, I know many folks have wood sheds, but most are open in at least one direction, and blowing wind can pack your woodpile full of snow. That’s no fun, and neither is trudging through three feet of snow with an armful of logs.
Make sure you stock up on bread and milk, or maybe beer and baby formula, or whatever else your family considers essential, before the store gets close.
Prepare your livestock as well, with shelter and food.
The Bigger Picture
Limited-duration regional emergencies, such as blizzards and other weather events, are good practice for long-term outages. If you end up cut off from civilization for four or five days, you can use that experience to determine what worked, what didn’t, what you need to do differently, and what you need more of.
It’s also a chance to see how your family handles adversity. Sitting in a house as the snow piles up, knowing you are powerless to do anything about it, just waiting for the power to go out, is another good test. It’s also an important reminder that books, board games and other non-electronic entertainment served our forefathers well and will help pass the time.
I look at power outages as a vacation. It’s not only a break from posting on the blog, but a break from doing any modern activity.
So, make sure you’ve got your warm clothes out of the storage closet, stash your snow boots somewhere they’ll stay warm before you have to put them on, keep the snow shoves handy, make sure the snow blower starts, and use this as a teachable moment for your kids and any green horns who are newly relocated and excited about seeing snow.