A series of heavy thunderstorms trained across the lower part of Michigan on Wednesday 2 July 2008. The first one, tracking north of Muskegon, was moving at around 40mph and missed us. But it merged with a second storm moving at 60mph which was aimed right at us. As the winds picked up and the rains came at us at a steep angle, Mrs. Dr. Phil asked if I wanted to bet when or if we'd need the generator. I said that I didn't know when, but that sometime in this string of storms the power would go out and we'd be on our own.
Shortly after that, at 2:38pm EDT, the power went out. It was quite dark in the house. Six seconds later and the automatic backup generator came on.
I tell you, spending that money last summer was genius.
We stood and sat at the big picture window in the dining room and watched a few pea-sized hailstones rattle around and watched the rain and wind and lightning. Very cool. Especially when one is comfortable and dry inside your house, and you can choose to turn off the living room lights so there'd be no glare on the windows. (grin)
Cable TV worked through all this, so we had on the disaster storm center mode on the local stations all afternoon. The third big storm rolled off the lake, hitting the Lake Michigan shoreline at Lake Michigan Drive M-45, roughly our latitude, with gusts of 87mph. That storm reached us at 4:20pm, with winds gusting to the 40-60mph range in Allendale.
Water and Trees
Several inches of rain in less than an hour multiple times. Lots of streets and roads flooded. Lots of big trees blown over, especially huge willow trees. The bridge over the Grand River at Wilson Avenue near 28th Street was closed -- they didn't say why -- but that complicated the river crossings. Wealthy Street near downtown and 68th Avenue way over by us would be the next two bridges, over twenty miles apart.
So glad I wasn't teaching Summer-II and that Mrs. Dr. Phil was home on vacation. And we could waste a day watching the rains and listening to the generator hum quietly in the background.
Our neighbor to the west was wandering through the tall weeds in our back yard around 6pm. I went out to see what was up. He can't hear our generator from his side, and since his is manual, he was getting closer to see if ours was still running or whether we had power back.
In the Morning...
... it was still cool, around 57degF. Around noontime I headed into town to mail a bill and check the P.O. Box. Decided to drive through town and see what was up. Most of the businesses on the south side of M-45 seemed to be up. On the north side of the road it was spotty. So Burger King was open while McDonald's was down and closed. They had a big portable generator, but that was probably for the freezers. But the TrueValue Hardware a hundred yards away was up and running, including their electronic sign by the road. Maybe they had a generator, but they were doing a lot of business. The Mobil gas station was closed, the Family Fare grocery and gas station on the south side, open.
Our bank had yellow tape across the drive-thru lanes, and I saw a little portable generator outside the back door. Lots of cars, including a bank company van in the parking lot. Front doors open. People coming and going. Inside, they were semi-lit with the big domed skylight and a fluorescent camp light. The generator was powering one terminal and they could do basic bank functions. No ATM, I had to write an actual check to get money. Talked with one of the managers and they figured the day before the Independence Day holiday they needed to be open. Good call, good people. At least it wasn't a hot, humid day.
I called Consumer's Energy and they had an estimated time of repair as Saturday 5 July 2008 by 11pm. I checked the 500 gallon LP tank and it read 40%, then we called our LP provider Crystal Flash and asked whether that would be enough -- they figured we'd make it through the weekend easily, but did point out they had a 24-hour delivery policy.
So we entertained company, still running on the generator, and they left by 9pm. Somewhere around then the cable TV did one of those digital lockups, where all but three channels were frozen on their last image. We had PBS, Univision (Spanish) and the TV Guide channel. We watched This Old House as they moved a big house.
I'll relate our other big computer adventure another time. (double-grin)
No sooner had I started typing this entry at 10:05pm Thursday night, then the lights went out for two seconds. Not the laptop, of course, or the DSL/wireless on the UPS. But... huh? Went to the garage door and peeked inside. Two green lights, no red or flashing red. The power had already come back up and the generator shut down sometime in the past half hour. Not sure why the power glitch. Usually the transfer switch closes with a helluva thud and fast. But I didn't hear the switch, so I think that after the power was back on and stable it hiccuped due to something else. Or something momentarily brought it down. Anyway, 31+ hours on the backup generator and no error codes when it finished.