This is a story that was a big deal for me today, and a question below.
It seems obvious to me and my wife that the weather has gotten steadily more extreme over the last 20 years, obviously due to human-caused global warming.
The great weather outbreaks, here in Maryland and across the country and the globe, are steadily getting more common and more severe.
This is a stupid small question about generators that I'd like help for, with context.
When SUPERSTORM SANDY was bearing down on us last October, they were calling for hurricane-force winds for two days over our area in Northern Maryland (Carroll County, northwest of Baltimore).
My wife and I freaked out and spent three days buying survival supplies.
The major expense was a gas-fueled generator from Home Depot, plus a fabulously expensive visit from our county's top electrical firm on the day that the hurricane was coming in, to install a "transfer switch," which lets us switch some circuits from utility power to generator power without using dangerous extension cords, etc.
Well, unexpectedly, Sandy pounded New York and points thereabout, but didn't hit us with what was predicted. So we never had to use the expensive generator setup.
One is directed to fire up a gas-fueled generator at least once a month to keep it working. I didn't do that for many months due to a shoulder injury. And one is also directed to put fuel preservative into the gas over the winter, and I blew that off. So I've been very worried the generator might have been damaged, although it never ran for more than 10 minutes in testing.
EDIT: The National Weather Service has confirmed that this was a dreaded "derecho," a term I had never heard of before last year. But, of course, there can't be global warming because ?
This morning at 8 a.m. we had the worst thunderstorm I've ever seen in 58 years of life. It got completely black. We got pounded by thousands of golfball-sized hail for 15 minutes, which felt like years. We thought the windows would break and the roof would come off. It was terrifying.
We had six or more big trees come down, destroying many fences, which is going to cost a fortune to fix. (I don't do chainsaw myself.)
We took pictures. There were what I think must have been hundreds of pounds of hail piled up on our deck (which directly faced the storm). I've never seen anything like that in my life. That's a huge amount of ice on one's property when it was 65 degrees.
Exciting survival day. The power was knocked out at our residence and also at our office building four miles away, so we sent the employees home and called an emergency weather day.
Twelve months ago a dreaded "derecho" ravaged this area. It didn't hit us hard in Carroll County, Maryland, but it was devastating in Montgomery County, Maryland, a few miles to our south. Some of our closest friends had a fantastic 12-hour survival ordeal driving home from Virginia, and they were without power for 14 days.
My wife and I drove about 10 a.m. to our office four miles away, and along the way there were emergency vehicles guarding downed power lines, and transformers that had been exploded and were still smoking (apparently from direct lightning hits), and in one stretch about 8 telephone poles had been snapped at their base and completely knocked down. Probably a microburst or a mini-tornado. Horrific damage. One house near ours had about three giant trees collapsed in their driveway.
The temperature went to about 90 today, and it was super-humid, so my wife and I were super-sweaty and tired after hours of clearing trees. A tree fell on top of our generator, for example, so it took a major effort to clear enough that we could access it, after clearing out several trees that had fallen down on the private road that leads to our house.
Anyway, after all this heroic effort (unusual for a sedentary lawyer like me), we actually got the generator cranked and working!
We were just about to throw all the breakers to switch the house to generator power when the utility power came back on, after only six hours!
So we were able to take showers, etc.
But four hours later it went out again.
So we finally, for the first time, fired up the generator again and went through the 15-point protocol to get all the switches right--and it worked! (I've been perhaps unreasonably nervous about blowing up the house with some electrical stupidity.)
And then the utility power returned after an hour (they're on the ball and call us to tell us).
So here is my question:
The electrician told me that although it is not approved by the electrical company I should leave a main panel breaker switch on, and one circuit breaker for a hall light on, so that I could tell that the utility power had returned when the hall light came on.
I think that's insane, and have decided not to follow that advice. I don't like the thought of utility power and generator power charging into my panels at the same time.
And as a practical matter, I believe I can count on my very on the ball local electrical company (Potomac Edison) to notify me by phone.
I'm the last thing on earth from an expert on electricity. I'd appreciate a comment from anybody who knows about this. Thanks!