Heat Wave, Storms, Tornadoes Cause Widespread Blackouts for Millions

First it was a transformer fire that left more than 70,000 people without power in New York City.

Then it was a heat wave that knocked out power for even more New Yorkers. Followed by more violent storms causing even more blackouts.

Unlike some power outages, this “snowballed” power outage went on for days and days. Until the heat finally broke, hundreds of thousands were sweltering with no power.

And that was just on the East Coast. The heat wave that swept the nation recently left millions of folks in the dark (and the heat). And severe storms including tornadoes and hail added even more turmoil.

They Knew It Was Coming, But…

An excessive heat wave warning from the National Weather Service was issued for the East Coast and other areas.

More than 300 million Americans in 29 states were expected to experience temperatures of over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio asked residents and businesses to turn thermostats up to 78. And people were urged to keep an eye on their neighbors.

People were also asked to not use energy-intensive appliances. Including washers, dryers and microwave ovens.

New York residents were advised to charge their cellphones in case they needed them in an emergency. And to close their curtains and blinds.

Storms Pack ‘A Wallop’

In northern New Jersey, more than 300,000 homes and businesses lost power due to the heat wave and storms.

Monmouth County (south of New York City) was one of many deluged. More than 45 percent of the county lost power as wind speeds topped 70 miles per hour.

Downed trees and power poles, as well as flooded roads, were common sights over several days. Large trees were completely uprooted before falling on houses. Large hail created additional damage in the Garden State.

“This storm packed a wallop,” according to the Ocean County Sheriff’s Office. “There are multiple wires-down calls. There are multiple tree-down calls.”

Drivers Abandon Flooded Cars

In Brooklyn, New York, flooding was so bad that people abandoned their cars. And waded through nearly waist-high water to seek shelter.

One Uber driver reported that he had to crawl out of his car window to escape. Another driver said he walked through deep water with only sandals on his feet.

Flash flood warnings were issued as far south as Atlantic City, New Jersey. Flights were cancelled at several airports, including LaGuardia and Newark.

Several days after the heat wave and storms subsided, tens of thousands in New York were still without power.

De Blasio thanked police officers and first responders for protecting citizens. But he also blasted Con Ed for not having restored power in a timely fashion.

Tornadoes Rip Through Wisconsin

Before reaching the East Coast, storms devastated parts of the Upper Midwest. Central Wisconsin was particularly hard hit.

Severe thunderstorms spawned a number of tornadoes. They ripped apart parts of several cities. Including New London, located about 40 miles southwest of Green Bay.

Thousands of trees were uprooted or snapped off by high winds. Negatively affected were houses, apartments, cottages and businesses. Plus cars, campers, sheds, barns, silos and crops.

“A tornado came through and destroyed half the town and knocked out our power,” one New London resident said.

The demand for portable generators skyrocketed after the storms. That’s according to the Post-Crescent newspaper in Appleton, Wisconsin.

In fact, in Grand Chute, WI they received an emergency shipment of generators to help meet the demand before the storm. Only to sell out in 20 minutes.

Michigan Next on Hit List

Southern Michigan was next to get hit hard with the heat wave and storms for a double whammy. Power was knocked out for more than 800,000 customers for two days.

Heather Rivard is a senior vice president at DTE Energy. It’s a Detroit-based energy company.

She said two large storms overwhelmed the utility system. The first storm featured winds of 50 to 60 mph. The second was even stronger, with wind speeds of 60 to 70 mph.

Power outages in Michigan covered more than 7,000 square miles. Restoring power was slow going.

Mainly because utility workers had to exhaust so much time clearing fallen trees. Only then could they start repairing some 2,000 lines and additional equipment.

Preparation Is the Key

Extreme weather is not only becoming more frequent across the U.S. It’s becoming more intense.

Hardly a week goes by where we don’t hear about – or experience – violent weather that knocks out our vulnerable power grid.

Even just this week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released its mid-season report on the 2019 hurricane season. They cautioned for “above-normal” activity, calling for 10-17 named storms, including 2-4 major hurricanes.

Unfortunately, we can’t do anything to control the weather. But we can prepare for it.

The best thing you can do for you and your family is to have a plan in place and supplies ready before the next one hits.

An obvious choice to help with power outages is to have a generator on hand.

But if that generator runs on gas, there could be a bigger problem than not having power.

That’s why we recommend using a solar generator instead.

You can use it to run kitchen appliances. Power your personal or medical devices. Or light up a room with an LED light string… for weeks at a time.

There is no worry about running it inside your house because it does not produce fumes like a gas generator.

And it recharges using only the power of the sun, so you don’t have to worry about gas shortages either.

See this personal solar power system in action (video)

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