How to Prepare for Drought and Changing Weather Patterns

The Western U.S. is experiencing a record-setting drought. How can you survive if your water source dries up? What options are there?

Note: The purpose of this article is not to debate the science or the politics of climate change or global warming; its purpose is to help preppers prepare for weather-related natural disaster, including drought. 

Unprecedented Natural Disasters

This year the Western states are experiencing what is or will probably become the worst drought on record. The snow pack in California is almost non existent. Reservoirs are at record lows, and hydropower generation may come to a halt as water levels sink lower. Farmers have had to let fields lie fallow because there is no water to grow crops.

The West is also seeing some of the highest temperatures on record with temperatures over 100 in places like Montana and Washington State. These high temperatures cause evaporation, which means even less water in those reservoirs, lakes and rivers.

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Survival Diary June 28: Propane Possibilities

Our all-electric house may be getting its first propane-powered appliance. That could be the foot in the door.

As I have mentioned before, our house is all electric, with no propane or natural gas. Apparently, the former owner, who built the house, did not “believe” in propane and didn’t want it in his house. This makes powering the house by solar power difficult, or at least prohibitively expensive, because running the stove and oven require so much electrical power.

Finding ourselves in need of a new cooktop, we are considering propane. Not because we want to make the house easier to power via sola—that’s an added bonus—but because we both like cooking on gas. We would place a tank outside the house and plumb a gas line into the garage and run it up through the floor of the kitchen under the stove.

The immediate benefit is that we could then cook on the stovetop if there was no electricity. Yes, I know gas appliances today require electricity, but that is easy to provide via battery power, solar power, or a so-called “solar generator.” While we can cook on the wood stove, the Coleman stove, our outdoor grill, or an actual open fire, the ability to cook on a traditional stove top during an extensive power outage would be awesome.

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Prepper Diary April 21: Cold Weather Slows our Outdoor Work

As a blast of cold weather rolls Eastward, we fall back onto old winter habits and prep for possible snow fall.

We’re heading back into winter for a few days as a system packing cold air punches its way through the region. Forecasts predict overnight temps in the low 20s.

To prepare for cold weather and the possibility of snow or ice trapping us on our mountain again, we went grocery shopping and stocked up on eggs and other essentials. We picked up the mail and ran some other errands. Then I loaded up the largest indoor stack of firewood I’ve had in a month or six weeks and split some kindling. We haven’t burned a fire in the upstairs fireplace for weeks, but we put enough wood up there to cover at least two days.

Unlike deep winter when cold weather could last for days or weeks, this system should clear out quickly and we hope to see warm weather return in just a few days.

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Spring Shows Up For a Few Days, the Tease

The yellow blooms of forsythia in the valley below us herald the coming of spring, but our mountain locations keeps it at bay.

I came down off our mountain to go shopping and realized it was spring in the valley. The forsythia was blooming. Willow trees had ribbons of green along their branches. When I got to our village, a few ornamental cherry and pear trees in front of houses were blooming.

On the mountain, spring has not yet sprung. In the woods, there are hint of it; red along the tree tops from the maples and touches of green in the undergrowth as small bushes. It’s as if they want to get a jump on the sunshine started soaking it up before their broadleaf cousins could intercept it all, and there was sunshine aplenty. It made me wish for bees. This would be their first real chance to gather pollen and perhaps some nectar and to rebuild their colony after the long cold winter.

While temperatures in the low 60s are welcome, we cannot get carried away. We are not done with the cold weather yet, as it is more than six weeks until our average last frost date. Already the five day forecast shows night time temperatures dropping back into the 20s before the weekend. With my luck, we’ll have snow.

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Extreme Drought Hits Western U.S., Plus New Solar Ideas

Much of the Western U.S. is in a severe to exceptional drought and unless some serious snow falls in their mountains, we could see an impact on the food supply

Food Storage is one of the pillars of prepping. It’s a foundational, meaning something you should have before you stockpile things like extra tools, items for barter, or gold or silver. A supply of potable water for drinking, rehydrating food, and hygiene is even more critical as you will die of thirst far before you starve to death. This is why preppers group them together as food, water, and shelter.

As we head into 2021, an extreme drought in much of the Southwest is raising concerns about water shortages. (See the main image, above, which is part of a larger, more complete report available at https://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/.) Because water is required to grow vegetables, fruits and nuts in California and other states, a drought may negatively impact the food supply this coming year. Add to this the possibility that fingers of drought will continue to reach into the Midwest and plains states, and you can see how the grain might also be hurt.

Ironically, last year it rained so hard many farmers were not able to get corn in the ground in a timely manner. This just reinforces the point that our feed supply remains weather dependent.

Speaking of weather, let’s hope the West gets some heavy snow before winter is over; they need it to refill the snowpack and their reservoirs. And let’s not forget that drought conditions also can lead to an increased risk of wildfires.

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Texas Freeze Damage Assessment Continues: Time to do Your Own

As the amount of damage done to lives, livelihoods, houses, business and agriculture continue to climb in Texas, you may want to re-assess your preps.

Fallout from the Texas big freeze continues as the less-immediate ramifications of the cold weather and resulting power outages come to light. For example:

Almost 80 people died as a result of the storm. This count could increase as coroner’s offices determine the cause of death for people who died during the cold spell.

The Texas Tribute is reporting that this could be the most damaging disaster in Texas history, possibly exceeding the $125 billion in damage after 2017’s Hurricane Harvey.

Damage to agriculture could total more than $500 million dollars. According to the Wall Street Journal:

  • Ninety-eight percent of the Valencia Orange crop and 55 percent of the grapefruit crop in Texas were destroyed by cold, plus the cold killed blossoms, resulting in the loss of next year’s crop.
  • More than 1.2 million chickens or eggs waiting to hatch died because of the storm.
  • Dairy farmers had to dump 14 million gallons of milk had to be dumped, and some dairy cows got frost-bitten udders and were for beef. The lost milk means less yogurt, butter, cheese and other dairy products.
  • Exotic animals from retired monkeys to springbok and other African animals raised in Texas were killed as they experienced temperatures never seen in their native lands.
  • Farmers also lost vegetables and other plants that were in the ground.
  • The damage is already contributing to food shortages in Texas.
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After the Deep Freeze, we Experience the First Twinges of Spring

After a spate of cold days with temps dropping into the teens, we see the first signs of spring and we test our gravity-flow water system.

Today was the first day it felt like spring instead of winter. Temps were in the low 50s instead of the low 30s.

It isn’t spring, of course; it’s still February, but the promise of spring is in the air.

Where I grew up, the first flowers we would get were snowdrops and crocuses. None of those here, but I did spot the yellow flower pictured above. I don’t think it’s a dandelion, but if it is, I’ll take it; it’s still our first sign of spring.

So I did what every red-blooded American does on the first day of warm weather and I sighted in my new (to me) .308 rifle. It was only at 25 yards, but it gave me the excuse to break it down, clean it and lube it after the fact. Happily, it functioned fine which is always a bit of a concern when dealing with a used gun.

Now I just have to decide if it makes sense to get an optic for it. I guess I should try shooting at 200 yards to make that decision.

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Lessons Preppers Can Learn from the Texas Big Freeze

Every disaster should be analyzed to determine what we as preppers can do to survive. Here are some initial thoughts regarding the Texas power outages.

Our hearts go out to the folks in Texas who suffered through the brutal cold spell this past week, many with no electricity or heat. A surprise ice storm or sub-zero temperatures are bad enough when all your utilities work, but the failure of the Texas Power Grid resulted in dozens of deaths and likely billions of dollars in damage.

Texas has a population of close to 30 million. At least half of them suffered power outages in this past week. About a third have been warned to boil their water. Grocery stores ran out of food and had trouble getting resupplied. Many restaurants are closed because they have run out of food and/or don’t have clean water. At the peak, Walmart closed more than 500 stores, most of them in Texas.

As unfortunate as this event has been, it provides lessons we can all benefit from. So, let’s take a look at that disaster and some of the things you can learn from it. Hopefully, these suggestions can help you avoid a similar situation in the future. If you took different lessons from it, post them in the comments below.

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Prepper Diary December 26: Bitterly Cold Weather Brings Frozen Pipe Concerns

Wind chills drop to the negative teens and we work on keeping the house warm and preventing our pipes from freezing.

It’s c-c-c-cold out there!  Snow continued through Christmas Day as the wind increased and temperatures dropped.

As I write this late on Christmas night, our thermometer says it is 8 degrees F.  The local weather predicts an overnight low of 2 degrees with a wind chill in the negative teens.  Its a good time to be indoors by the fire!

In our unheated garage, which is attached to the house, it is 46 degrees.  In the spare bedroom, which we had closed off, it is almost 50 degrees.   (We opened the door to let it warm up.)  In the master bath, which has two outide walls, its 54.

In the main part of the house, the fireplace insert is struggling to keep the temperature at 68 degrees.  I have to keep reminding myself that in our old house, 68 was what we turned the thermometer to when we wanted it to warm up, and we slept with our bedroom at 62. 

In the basement, home of my man cave and the wood stove, the stove pipe thermometer read 350 degrees, but it is just 70 degrees in the room.  Still, when you come down stairs, you can feel the warm air rising up the stairwell. 

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Get Prepared for a Long, Cold, Lonely Winter

The combination of cold, snowy weather and rising cases of COVID-19 could make for a cold, lonely winter with no holiday visits.

The middle of the country is suffering through an arctic blast, with snow in the American Redoubt and ice storms as far south as Texas.  Winter has started early and looks to be a cold one due to two factors: The La Nina conditions in the Pacific Ocean, which result in colder temperatures parts of the U.S.; and the solar minimum, a time during which the sun’s solar spot activity dies down and temperatures on earth drop.  Many fear that the current solar minimum may last  years, rivaling the Maunder Minimum which may have caused “the little ice age” in the late 1600s.

At the same time temperatures are dropping, the number COVID-19 cases are growing, peaking last week at more than 85,000.  Hospitalizations are also increasing, although there has been little or no increase in deaths so far. Fears that lockdowns will be announced grow as people like Dr Faucci and California’s Governor Newsom are recommending strict Thanksgiving restrictions, including restricting travel, limiting the number of people who attend and the length of the gathering.

In short, it looks like we may be in for a long, cold, lonely winter.

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