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  • 5 Areas of Winter Prep Learned From the Oklahoma Ice Storm


    Ice Sign - Oklahoma Ice Storm Photo Credit - Barbie Jeffers

    The day after Thanksgiving was a black Friday for some as they went without power as the Oklahoma ice storm blew in. By Saturday night, over 70,000 people were left without power as the winter storm made its way through the state. Over 50,000 people were still without power on Monday morning, and many could still have to wait a day or two before their power comes back on.

    The Oklahoma ice storm was so bad that the state governor Mary Fallin has declared a state of emergency that will last for 30 days. According to a Reuters article, “between Thursday and Sunday, parts of the state were encrusted with up to an inch of ice, which downed power lines and prompted the closure of slick roadways.”

    Ice storms can be very dangerous. Caused by freezing rain, DoSomething.org warns ice storms can “[entomb] everything in the landscape with a glaze of ice so heavy that it can split trees in half and turn roads and pavements into lethal sheets of smooth, thick ice.” An example of this is shown in the video below of students on a college campus sliding around on the ice, trying to make it to their classes.



    Oklahoma Ice Storm Tree - via NOAA via NOAA

    Sure, turning the streets and sidewalks can be fun, but it makes travel very dangerous. Ice storms can also cause tree branches to become up to 30 times heavier due to being covered in ice. Power lines, of course are also affected by the extra weight. As we have seen in Oklahoma, that can cause tens of thousands to be without power for an extended period of time. Being without power in the winter can be a very unpleasant experience.

    One woman’s house was without power for three days. During that time, her house was so cold that she had her two little girls stay somewhere that did have power and heat. Her house was dark, and the lack of electricity ruined hundreds of dollars in food that needed to be refrigerated. Milk, yogurt, meat, and Thanksgiving leftovers had to be thrown away. Not only is being without power uncomfortable, but it can be costly as well.

    These destructive winter storms can freeze and rupture pipes, cause widespread blackouts, and even lead to loss of life. In order to counter the adverse effects of ice storms, a few simple precautions can be taken before hand to ensure your health and safety.


    1. Food and Water

    Like the lady mentioned above (and thousands of others), power can be out for a long time. Make sure you have at least three days’ worth of water (one gallon per person per day) as well as easy to prepare foods. If your stove or microwave won’t work, you might find cooking to be a lot more difficult than you’re used to.


    1. Warmth

    When it’s cold outside, it’s cold inside, and unless you have other means of staying warm, you might consider finding somewhere else to stay. Make sure you have plenty of blankets and warm clothing, including hats, gloves, scarves, socks, boots, and a heavy jacket. If you have a fireplace, light it up and bask in its warmth. Otherwise, you might consider investing in a kerosene or propane heater. But be careful! Make sure you have adequate ventilation when using fireplaces or fueled space heaters, and never leave them unattended, especially while sleeping. The last thing you want is to add carbon monoxide fumes to your freezing home!


    1. Fuel

    If you have a fireplace or space heater, you’ll want to make sure you have plenty of fuel well before the storm hits.


    1. Power

    Having a generator, batteries, or even a hand-crank phone charger can make a world of difference when the power goes out. With these tools, you can have more options for heat, as well as powering up other devices you might need until the power comes back on.


    1. Light

    When the power’s out and the sun goes down, it can get very, very dark. Make sure you have multiple sources of alternate light, such as flashlights, 115-hour oil candles, or power-failure lighting. Not only will these light sources help you navigate your home in the dark, but they can also bring a sense of peace and comfort to your little ones during this uncertain time.


    Before the winter storms come, take the time to adequately prepare. It doesn’t take much, and you’ll be glad you did.


    Winter_Storm_Blog_Image - Oklahoma Ice Storm


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  • This El Niño Winter Could Be the Strongest Ever

    Satellite Comparing Two El Niño Winters Satellite images comparing Nov. 18, 2015, and Nov. 19, 1997 - via KTLA

    This year’s El Niño event looks like it could be one of the largest ever, a Southern California National Weather Service office said on Nov. 25.

    The office suggested it could be comparable to the largest El Niño we know about, the 1997-1998 event.

    That El Niño winter is important for two reasons: its size, and that for the first time, scientists actually predicted its impacts. Thanks to those predictions, governments, utilities and private organizations were able to prepare for its possible effects.

    “Even in poverty-ridden Peru constructing storm drains and stockpiling emergency supplies saved hundreds of lives during 1997 and ’98,” said a National Geographic story about that El Niño. “Many affected areas could prepare for floods and fires, population migration, and the spread of disease.”

    Contrary to a Saturday Night Live sketch starring Chris Farley, an El Niño is not a storm or even a series of storms. It’s part of a natural cycle that occurs every few years.

    Trade winds usually pile up warm surface water on the western side of the Pacific, off the coast of Indonesia. During an El Niño year, trade winds fail and that warm water sloshes back to the west coast of South America. The warmer water and atmosphere during an El Niño speeds airflow toward the poles, which, in the northern hemisphere, causes the jet stream to move south.

    El Niño WinterThe jet stream is a constant, high-altitude wind moving at hurricane speed that circles the globe. Storms follow its track. The last few years, for example, a “blob” of warm water over the Gulf of Alaska has pushed the jet stream northward into western Canada and south into the eastern U.S. The result: drought in the west and the “Polar Vortex” and 2014’s record-breaking snowfall in the east.

    A strong El Niño like the 1997-98 one usually pushes the jet stream south. In 1997, this meant record-breaking rainfall in California and the southeastern U.S. and an abnormally warm winter across the north. A report from the National Climatic Data Center showed the results to U.S. weather patterns.

    In December 1997, Glasgow, Mt. had no sub-zero temperatures for the first time recorded and averaged 10.9 degrees above normal. At the same time, part of central and northeast Florida got hammered with record rainfall: Tampa saw 15.57 inches and Orlando 12.63. All of this weather followed the expected pattern of a large El Niño.

    El Niño Winter Outlook 2015-2016 El Niño Winter Outlook - via NOAA

    January 1998 began with a widespread storm that brought flooding and tornadoes to the southeast and one of the worst ice storms recorded to New England. Fifty-six people were killed in the U.S. and Canada from January 5-9. An estimated 500 homes were flooded in North Carolina. Up to 3 inches of frozen rain fell in the Northeast and Canada. The ice destroyed nearly 3 million feet of power lines, leaving more than 3 million customers without power in Canada and 500,000 more in the U.S. The damages from this storm alone were more than $2 billion in Canada.

    Precipitation records fell throughout the month in the southeast. Flat Top, W.V. saw 35 inches of snow in one day. New Orleans received 19.28 inches throughout the month.

    In February, it was California’s and Florida’s turn. Four weeks of rain caused widespread flooding and mudslides in California. Santa Barbara shattered its rainfall record for any month of the year with almost 22 inches. Seventeen people were killed and 35 counties were declared federal disaster areas.

    On February 22-23, 42 people were killed in Florida tornadoes that also left more than 3,500 homes damaged and 1,500 uninhabitable. Fifty-four of 67 Florida counties were declared disaster areas.

    Later in the year, produce and orange juice prices rose because of crop damage in the two states.

    However, not all El Niño’s effects were negative. One paper by climatologist Stanley Changnon estimated that 189 people in the U.S. died from El Niño-related weather and U.S. economic costs were $4.2-$4.5 billion. However, abnormally warm, dry weather throughout most of the country reduced heating costs and got people outdoors. This produced an economic benefit of almost $20 billion and an estimated 859 people were saved because above-normal temperatures reduced freezing deaths.

    The paper also pointed out that, because scientists for the first time predicted El Niño’s coming, states prepared. California spent about $7.5 million to help with local preparedness projects and public warnings. As a result, Changnon believes, the state suffered $1.1 billion in damage, compared with about $2 billion lost in 1982-83, an equivalent El Niño year.

    Or, as a United Nations study of the 1997-98 El Niño said, “The time the farmer should fix his leaky roof is when it is NOT raining. The time to prepare for El Niño is when there is no El Niño underway.”


    Winter_Storm_Blog_Image - El Niño Winter
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  • Black Friday Deals Under $10

    We know you love deals, and sometimes you're just looking for something a little cheaper. This is a list of all our Black Friday deals that are under $10. You're welcome.


    Mountain House Cinnamon Fuji Apple Slices #10 Can (Sale Price: $9.99 – Save 62%)

    Cinamon ApplesCinnamon apples are delicious, and the freeze-dried variety is no exception. These Mountain House cinnamon apples are amazing with all sorts of meals, including desserts, salads, yogurt, or just right out of the can!


    Hybrid 40 Lumens Solar FlashlightHybrid 40 Solar Flashlight (Sale Price: $8.99 – Save 64%)

    Everybody needs a good flashlight in their emergency kit (or camping or night hikes or, well, you get the picture). But isn’t it just the worst when you go to use your flashlight and the batteries are dead? Mourn no more! This flashlight recharges from any light source. Yes, you heard me right – any light source. It runs for 8 hours on one full solar/light charge and will even hold that charge for years, so you can charge it up, put it in your emergency kit, glove compartment, or wherever you stash flashlights, and then forget about it until you need it. If capturing light isn’t an option, you can still use batteries as backup. With this flashlight, you need never fear about being left in the dark.


    Aquamira Water Bottle with Filter (Sale Price: $9.99 – Save 66%)

    This water bottle is more than meets the eye. It’s also clean filtered water on the trail or in an emergency. Simply fill this water bottle with water and the built-in filter will reduce chlorine, bad taste, and odors, while also certified to remove more than 99.9% of Giardia and Cryptosporidium – the two leading causes of waterborne illness. This is definitely a great addition to your outdoor gear, and fits well in standard cup holders or bicycle cages.


    High Uinta Gear 13-Function Knife (Sale Price: $1.99 – Save 71%)13-Function Knife

    Everyone needs a knife in their emergency kit, so why not get one that has multiple functions? This knife includes a 2” stainless steel blade, phillips and standard screwdrivers, reamer punch, nail file and cleaner, sewing eye, 2” double-cut saw, spring loaded scissors, scaler and hook remover, corkscrew, can opener, bottle opener, and key ring. That’s a lot of stuff for just two dollars! Again, you need a knife. Might as well go with something that offers you even more options, just in case.


    Instant Nonfat Fortified Milk (Sale Price: $9.99 – Save 54%)Dry Milk

    Milk. You love it, but come an emergency, you may not be able to find it in the stores. Fortunately, we’ve got you covered. Our Instant Nonfat Fortified Milk gives you bone-strengthening calcium and is fortified with vitamins A and D, making it a healthy drink or baking and cooking ingredient. And, unlike some powdered milks, this one gives you a fresh, straight from the store (or cow) taste, not that burnt aftertaste that is so common among powdered milk. Our customers love it, and so many people can’t be wrong. Now’s the time to stock up on milk.


    Freeze-Dried Green Peas (Sale Price: $9.99 – Save 50%)Freeze-Dried Green Peas

    Green peas go with everything. Casseroles, soups, stir fries, side dishes…you name it. And, these freeze-dried greens are an excellent source of vitamin C and fiber, as well as a good source of protein, vitamin A, and iron. Tell me that’s not a good looking list of nutrients! These peas are essential for your emergency food storage. It’ll be music to your ears when you hear your little ones saying, “More peas, please!”


    Holiday Red 115-Hour Plus Emergency Candle (Sale Price: $3.79 – Save 57%)115-Hour Plus Candle

    When the power goes out, you know what to do…Light it up! These emergency candles burn clean, odorless, and smokeless, making them a great option for indoor use during power outages. Each candle burns for 115 hours straight, and since you won’t need it during the daytime as much, these candles will last you a very long time. The perfect addition to your emergency kits.


    Ultra Warmer (Sale Price: $0.75 – Save 69%)Ultra Warmer

    These warmers provide more than 24 hours’ worth of constant heat. They are safe to use and environmentally friendly. Line your sleeping bag with them, tuck them in your jacket during sporting events, or just have some ready to use in an emergency by keeping them in your emergency kit in your home or car.


    Emergency Gas Wrench (Sale Price: $2.99 – Save 70%)

    Gas leaks can be very dangerous, and they can come about by earthquakes and other disasters. If there’s a gas leak in your home, you need to shut the gas off right away, since gas leaks are a fire hazard. Keep this emergency gas wrench near your gas valves so you’ll always know where it is when you need it.


    Emergency Whistle (Sale Price: $0.35 – Save 53%)Emergency Whistle

    Jiminy Cricket hit it right on the money when he said, “When you’re in trouble…give a little whistle!” Having an emergency whistle with you can make a huge difference in getting help. Attach the lanyard to your hiking bag, camp gear, or in your emergency kit, so when you’re in trouble, this little whistle can help others find you.


    6-Gallon Bucket with Lid (Sale Price: $5.99 – Save 53%)6 Gallon Bucket with Lid

    Buckets are great for storing food. They’re high quality, food-grade, and stackable – everything you want (and need) in a good food bucket for your storage! You can store bulk grains, cereal, flour, sugar, and basically anything else that fits! Save storage space by stacking these buckets on top of each other. Dump in your food, toss in an oxygen absorber, and cap it off with the included lid and you’re good to go!


    Steak Seasoning Supreme (Sale Price: $8.99 – Save 55%)Steak Seasoning

    Every steak needs its signature seasoning, and this is the perfect one to go with your emergency food storage or kitchen pantry. Season you meat for a most excellent taste you will be renowned for.



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