Portable Generator Use During Winter Storm Power Outages

polemanThis is only the first week of December, but already crews in southern states are working to repair the damage left behind by the ice storm that paralyzed travelers and left hundreds of thousands without power. The storm has headed northeast with snow, sleet, and freezing rain from the Lower Mississippi Valley to New England.

Winter storms that carry ice, freezing rain, and sleet followed by subfreezing temperatures like this storm are also the most likely to leave residents and businesses without power. Freezing temperatures and ice-laden trees hinder work crews as they travel to and from areas with outages and encounter ice crusted equipment and fallen trees or limbs, which only serves to prolong outages.

Portable Generators for Emergency Power

A Generac Portable Generator Showing Safe Use and Operation

Choose a Safe Location to Run Portable Generators.

People without power often turn to portable generators when the power goes out, and that certainly makes sense. Portables are less expensive than standby units that operate automatically, but their portability  makes them prone to certain risks when misused or when adequate caution is not taken. Used properly, portable generators provide a safe supply of electrical power.

Carbon Monoxide

If you use any kind of generator—portable or standby—to supply emergency power, install carbon monoxide detectors in main living and sleeping areas in your home. Locate portables at least 10 feet away from the home and never near a door, window, or vent. Be especially cautious of extension cords that enter the home through a window―the difference in air temperature can cause exhaust fumes to enter the home undetected. Position the unit so the exhaust is moved away from the home instead of toward it. Remember that your generator’s exhaust can affect your neighbors as well; take care that exhaust won’t enter their home.Image 706

Never operate a generator or other internal combustion engine inside your home, basement, garage or any enclosed space. Carbon monoxide from the exhaust can sicken or kill within a very short time.

Shock Hazards

Electrical_Outlet_And_Plug_clip_art_smallWorking with electrical cords in the rain or freezing rain is dangerous. If you have to run your portable generator while it is raining, place the unit under a canopy without sides. Position the generator where it won’t stand in pooling water. Make a few patio blocks part of your setup and use them to keep the generator off the ground.

Plug extension cords or dedicated power cables into the generator when it is turned off. Then start your generator and turn the main breaker on after you have made all the connections.

Read the owners manual and make sure your generator is properly grounded when used as a source of emergency power for your home.

Transfer Switch

You can eliminate the need for extension cords by having a manual transfer switch and inlet box installed by a qualified electrician. The transfer switch will allow you to run the essential circuits you need along with a few lights or small television and it is permanently wired to the inlet box. All you need is the dedicated power cable to connect the generator to the inlet box.

An inlet box with a manual transfer switch allows your furnace to operate to keep the house warm and pipes from freezing in below-freezing temperatures. At the same time, it isolates your home’s electrical system from the electric utility. This protects utility workers from electric shock and prevents damage to your generator when the power is restored.

Standby generators are often packaged with an ATS that includes power management to control appliances that draw large amounts of power.

Generators protect families and property from the effects of winter power outages by keeping the heat on and essentials operating.

A portable generator can literally be a lifesaver when used properly. Take the time to plan for its use in an emergency; install a transfer switch and inlet box, have an easy-to-erect canopy to protect the generator, and store at least a few days worth of fuel to keep it running along with enough oil and maintenance supplies to last several weeks..

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Major Ice Storm Kills Power – Locks Down Central USA

Ice-covered trees and lamp from the freezing rain and sleet by Christopher Waits

Ice-covered trees and lamp from the freezing rain and sleet. Photo by Christopher Waits

A major ice storm is paralyzing a wide swath from Northern Texas through Kentucky and Tennessee and has made travel extremely hazardous. The blast of frigid air moving in behind the storm will only add to the difficulties with school and government agency shutdowns. Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe has declared a state of emergency in order to assist utility crews with cleanup and repair operations. Southern Mississippi is under a winter storm watch and expecting up to eight inches of snow.

More than 200,000 are without power and that number is expected to increase as the storm pushes northeast and heads for the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast where it will bring sleet, freezing rain, and snow by Sunday. More power outages are expected and travel will become hazardous.

Another blast of sub-zero frigid air will move in behind the current storm and bring snow and hazardous travel to Arizona.

Power Outage Problems

One of the biggest worries when the power is out and temperatures drop below freezing is frozen water pipes that burst and then flood a home, often after the homeowner has left for warmer accommodations. Without electricity, heating systems won’t work. If you are forced to leave your home, turn off the main water valve and drain the pipes before you leave. The main line coming into the home could still freeze however, but a plumbing company can usually turn it off.

Sump pumps are another source of concern as water levels rise and the pump does not operate. Basements can flood and cause damage to finished areas and ruin belongings. A battery backup pump can help for a few hours, but if your basement gets wet easily, the only way to prevent flooding for a long period of time is with a portable or standby generator.

Safe Use of Portable Generators

A Generac Portable Generator Showing Safe Use and Operation

Choose a Safe Location to Run Portable Generators.

A portable generator is a great asset during a power outage, but it can also be a source of dangerous carbon monoxide if not used properly. Safe placement of the unit means keeping it away from the home. Never place a portable generator near a wall or roof vent, under a window, or close to a door.

Even if a window is closed or open just a crack (perhaps to allow room for an extension cord,) the difference in air temperature will draw carbon monoxide into the home. During Hurricane Sandy, users of portable generators were sickened and some died for exactly this same reason.

Never operate a portable generator inside a home, garage, or shed.

Don’t backfeed the home’s electrical system by plugging it into an appliance outlet. This could energize the lines leading out of the home and injure or kill a utility worker. Use extension cords adequate for the job.

Standby Generators

Generac Standby Generator showing snow cleared from around the unit and all vents cleared of snow.

Keep Ice, Snow and Other Debris from Accumulating Around Standby Units

An ice storm is a particularly hazardous event. It coats everything with a layer of ice and that includes the standby generator unit outside your home. If your standby generator is operating, make sure it is clear of snow and debris that may be blocking the vents. Clear away built up ice if necessary.

Monitor the generator alerts and status frequently to ensure it is operating correctly. Some generators need maintenance after just four days of operation. Check the oil daily and top it off as necessary, but don’t overfill. The middle of a power outage isn’t the best time to be looking for maintenance supplies, but if you have to go out, add oil for the generator to your shopping list.

Portable Generators

Fuel for portable units is a concern because you can only stock a limited amount of gasoline. Just like standby units, you need a stock of maintenance supplies on hand. If you go out to buy more fuel, be sure to add oil to the list. Check the oil level daily and top it off as necessary.

If your generator is connected via a manual transfer switch, it most likely plugs into a dedicated inlet box. Make sure the power cable remains clear of ice and be prepared to occasionally clean it off.

Generators are difficult to find during a widespread power outage. Instead of waiting for the next storm, contact Norwall Power Systems and find out how a standby or portable unit can protect your home from the next blast of frigid air or tropical storm.

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2013 Hurricane Season Ends but Awareness Still Important

Image by NASA of Hurricane Ingrid

Hurricane Ingrid Forms in the Western Caribbean Sea

The June through November hurricane season has ended for 2013. Even though the season runs from June 1st through November 30th, hurricanes and other tropical cyclones can still form and affect the United States and the rest of North America.

Weather prediction is a difficult and imprecise science, and long term prediction of tropical cyclones is no different. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecasters had predicted an above average tropical storm season for 2013 with 13 to 18 named storms, seven to eleven hurricanes, and three to six major hurricanes (category 3 or higher).

Off-Season Storms

The end of the official hurricane season does not mean that people living in coastal areas subject to storms can let their guard down. Since 1851, sixty-one tropical cyclones have formed in the Atlantic Basin and 2012′s Tropical Storm Beryl was the most recent. Most storms during the off season form in the month of May, but other months have seen some strong storms, including category two and three hurricanes.

Beryl began as a depression in the Caribbean Sea and heavy rain caused flooding and landslides in Cuba where two people died. Later it formed into a tropical storm with 65 MPH winds and caused flooding and power outages in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina before moving offshore to the northeast as a subtropical depression. Before it left, it spawned a tornado responsible for at least one death.

2014 Storms

While the 2013 season didn’t produce as many strong storms as predicted, the opposite could have just as easily been the case.

The six months until the start of the 2014 hurricane season is a good time to prepare and plan for next year. Power outages are common when tropical storms and hurricanes make landfall, and can affect large areas and tens of thousands or even millions of power-company customers. A standby or portable generator and the correct installation can keep your home livable after the storm passes.

Making a comprehensive plan ahead of time and being prepared will help your home and family weather a storm and give you some peace of mind when a storm does threaten. Even if you are not in the direct path of a storm, it’s widespread effects can leave you without electricity or cut off from evacuation or rescue efforts by flooding. Prepare now and a few days or even a week without utility power or the ability to buy food and water will make life that much easier.

Atlantic Storm Season 2013

Manhattan without power after Sandy

A Mostly Dark Manhattan in the Aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in November of 2012

This year was the first since 1994 that the season didn’t end with a major hurricane. In fact, 2013 saw just two hurricanes develop out of the 13 named storms in the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, the lowest number of hurricanes since 1983. The United States and Caribbean can count itself lucky this year. Mexico wasn’t quite so fortunate and experienced one hurricane, three tropical storms, and one tropical depression. A total of 46 people died as a result of the storms.

And while Colorado State University weather scientists have called their pre-season tropical storm forecast a bust, it really only highlights the difficulty in making long-term weather forecasts. Those who have lived along the coast for any length of time know that regardless of what forecasters say, eventually a storm will come ashore and cause havoc, power outages, flooding, and widespread damage.

Photo of Hurricane Ingrid courtesy of NASA

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Make Sure Your Generator is Ready for Winter

Home Standby Maintenance

Fall Maintenance Ensures Winter Readiness.

Winter brings colder temperatures and everything from ice storms to blizzards. Your standby or portable generator has to operate when you need it. In winter, that means starting and running reliably in sub-freezing temperatures.

Most engines do not start as easily when it is cold, and the engine in your generator is no different. In addition to parts that don’t move as easily and oil that is thicker in colder temperatures, it is also harder to make the fuel burn efficiently and keep the engine running. Modern engines have seen great improvements in last few decades that help them start and keep running, but making sure your generator is in top condition will help ensure it’s ready when you need it.


Standby generators automatically start and run themselves for a short period even when they are not required. These ‘exercise ‘ cycles typically last less than ten minutes, but that run time helps keep the engine lubricated and maintains the engine’s seals.

While a weekly exercise period isn’t necessary for a portable generator, it is important to run the engine on occasion to move gasoline out of the carburetor and replace it with fresh gasoline. This reduces residue buildup that can block tiny ports in the carburetor or gum up moving parts.

Fall is a good time to schedule generator maintenance. Fresh oil, new filters and plugs, and other maintenance are no less important on your home generator than they are on the family car. They help insure the generator engine will start reliably when you need it most, and that time is often in the middle of the night in the worst kind of weather.


Generac Standby Generator showing snow cleared from around the unit and all vents cleared of snow.

Keep Snow and other Debris from Accumulating Around Standby Units

Keep the area around your standby generator clear of leaves and debris. It is especially important that the air vents on the cabinet are not blocked by leaves or snow. When you clear snow after storm, make sure you also clear a path to the generator and clean the snow away from cabinet. Keep blowing snow from accumulating in drifts against the generator.

A Generac Portable Generator Showing Safe Use and Operation

Choose a Safe Location to Run Portable Generators.

If you’ve prepared properly, your portable generator connects to an inlet plug on the outside of your home, and you have chosen a location to place the unit when it is in use. Don’t forget to clear a path from the chosen location to the inlet plug when moving snow, and also keep a clear path to the location for the portable generator from your garage or shed.

Cold Weather Operation

The vast majority of the country experiences weather that falls below freezing. Cold weather kits and accessories help your generator engine start and warm up faster. Some cold weather accessories are easy to install, others are better left to a professional installer. In either case, planning ahead now can thwart a problem from occurring when you least expect it.

Cold lowers the ability of a battery to produce energy. By keeping the battery warm with a battery warmer, the battery is able to produce more energy and thus provide more reliable engine starting.

Engine block heaters and oil heaters also provide more reliable starting in cold weather. Some manufacturers have other accessories such as alternator warmers that prevent frost buildup, and shields that keep ice from clogging air intakes.


Most portable generators run on gasoline, and stale gas makes an engine hard to start, especially in cold weather. You can extend the life of your fuel by adding stabilizers. Follow the directions on the bottle, but remember that you still have to use the fuel within a year.

Rotate stored fuel supplies by using them in your car, snowblower, lawn mower, or other engine-powered machine. One good way is to empty a five-gallon can into your car, then take the can to the gas station with you and fill up both the car and the can.

By rotating one can of fuel every month, you can completely replace a 30-gallon fuel supply every six months.

Your generator is an important part of keeping your family and home safe during a power outage, and even more so in winter. Make sure your generator is ready to run when you need it most.

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You Ordered a Standby Generator – What Comes Next?

The last time you went without power you promised yourself it would never happen again. The decision was made and now you’ve taken action by ordering a new standby generator from Norwall Power Systems. What happens next?


Your delivery driver will drive up to your driveway entrance and unload the standby generator. He’s not going to move it any further than that. Drivers have schedules to meet and transport companies have liabilities to worry about. Even if you have a long driveway, curbside delivery means at the curb or entrance. Often this is close to your mailbox. Don’t count on the driver to help you move the unit, you’ll need other arrangements for that.

Plan to be at home when the delivery is scheduled and inspect the unit before signing off and accepting the delivery. If the packaging or unit has damage, do not accept delivery.

Moving the Generator

You will need some help moving the generator unless you happen to own a truck with a crane on it. Standby generators are heavy and air-cooled units can ship weighing more than 500 pounds. Most standby generators have carry holes what allow you to insert two lengths of iron pipe through them to give four or more people to carry the unit. Get it off your driveway entrance and move it near the final installation location. Cover it with a tarp until it is installed.

Site Selection and Preparation

You should already have spoken to your homeowners association and the local building code enforcement department about your installation requirements and understand their rules. The local building code department is usually the Authority Having Jurisdiction and their rules regarding placement may conflict with manufacturer requirements. The AHJ always takes precedence over manufacturer minimum requirements. Either have assurance in writing that a building permit will be issued, or have the permit before you order.

Ideally, choose a site close to the electric utility meter and transfer switch, which is the utility service entrance for your home. Other placement options are less ideal, but still possible. Horizontal clearance includes 36 inches in front of, and to either side of the generator. Check the installation manual for minimum distance to the home siding, then check your building code rules. Have the installation manual in hand while speaking to the inspector about your installation so you can point out what the manufacturer requires if there is a conflict. Inspectors are sometimes flexible if there is a good reason or safety is not compromised.

No windows, doors or vents within five feet horizontally of either generator end. There must be 60 inches between the top of the generator and the eaves of the home. Don’t install where water accumulates, comes off the roof, or otherwise affects the generator. Plan on a windbreak to keep leaves and other flammables, or blowing snow, from accumulating next to or on the generator.

Gravel beds start with a five-inch-deep rectangle dugout that is six inches longer and wider than the standby generator footprint. Cover the soil with weed-blocking landscape cloth and fill with pea gravel or crushed stone. Level the filler and compact it. Instead of stone, a concrete pad at least four inches deep is also a good installation base. Again, check your local codes for requirements.


The building’s natural gas or LP gas supply will require extension to the installation site, and some natural gas meters will require an upgrade. There is also some fairly extensive wiring for the transfer switch and generator. Unless you’re a qualified DIY plumber and electrician, installation is a job for an experienced professional. If you plan to do the job yourself, your building inspector will want assurance that you know what you’re doing―plan to answer questions and submit a detailed installation plan before they will issue a permit.

Ordering a standby generator is just the beginning. Getting it from the curb to your home and then having it installed is the real work. Do your homework, be prepared, and the entire process will happen smoothly.

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Perform Your Own Power Grid Blackout Scenario

Transmission tower supporting high-voltage electrical transmission cables.

High-Voltage Transmission Towers Support Cables that Carry Electricity Across the Continent’s Electrical Grid.

Federal authorities and electric utility companies are working together this week to simulate a national electric grid blackout. The purpose is to educate the Federal Government on what will happen if a terrorist attack or other event caused a widespread blackout of the nations power grid. “This exercise is designed to test how well participating agencies respond to a widespread power loss and challenges stemming from that event…”

No loss of power to utility customers is planned, but it does raise a question. What would you do if the power went out and stayed out? What if your local utility couldn’t provide you with electric power?

In a recent article, the New York Times called the nation’s power grid “The glass jaw of American industry.”

Would you be prepared if the nation’s power went out for an extended period of time?

It Could Happen

The nation’s power supply is distributed by transmission networks that span the entire continent and include Mexico, The United States, and Canada. They include 5800 major power plants, a mix of smaller generating facilities, and nearly half a million miles of high voltage transmission lines.

The entire grid is controlled by a widely variable mix of devices and computers, some of which are veritable antiques. And opposite of what you would think, it is the oldest of those devices that are least vulnerable. Newer equipment relies heavily on Windows-based software and controls; the same operating system and software that is so vulnerable to attack by a virus or malicious software.

One possible scenario that this weeks test is incorporating is a substation break in and subsequent infection of the equipment spreads to other computers that control the grid, and shuts off the power.

Conduct Your Own Scenario

Planning a Manual Transfer Switch Installation

Read Next |> Planning a Manual Transfer Switch Installation (1/4)

It’s always best to be prepared for the worst. You never know when a earthquake will strike, or when a tornado outbreak will devastate a region, or something else causes the power will go out. The first thought that goes through anyone’s mind is to wonder when the power will come back on.

What if it doesn’t?

There are plenty of online resources that offer lists and other advice. You need a supply of food and water and a way to keep your family warm. Most homes today rely on electricity for their heating systems, and to keep other essential systems operating. If the power grid is out, your only option is to make your own electric power.

Your own power grid failure scenario should include storing food and water and planning your emergency power use and how to conserve fuel.

Home Generators for Emergency Use

Briggs & Stratton Elite 7000 Watt Electric Start Portable Generator

Portable Generators can supply emergency power during a power blackout or interruption.

Portable generators can provide power in an emergency, but they work best when connected to the building through a transfer switch―a device that isolates the building from the electric utility. That requires planning, even if you’re a do-it-yourself kind of person that can handle the job. Portables need a continuous supply of liquid fuel and chances are good you won’t have the ability store more than a few days worth. In a scenario like this, a mid-sized unit will use less fuel and you’ll have to conserve electricity.

Remember that fuel use is directly related to electricity use. The more electricity you use, the more fuel you will use.


A Generac Standby Generator installed next to a house.

Standby Generators provide automatic power during an outage or blackout

Standby Generators connect to a building through an automatic transfer switch. Most small to mid-sized commercial and residential units operate on natural or LP gas and can run for days without refueling. Air-cooled models are economical to purchase and operate, while liquid-cooled units provide exceptional reliability

To keep your generator running for long periods of time, maintain it during use with new spark plugs, fresh oil, and clean filters. Keep in mind that during a long-term power outage, gas companies may not be able to provide a continuous supply. The ability to change from natural gas to LP gas might be a benefit.

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Be Prepared for Winter Storms

Two vehicles, barely visible and buried in snow after winter storm Nemo.

The Aftermath of Winter Storm Nemo in Massachusetts, 2013.

Winter has arrived in some places or is on the way in others. Winter storms bring a variety of conditions including cold temperatures, high winds, ice, rain, and snow―sometimes in paralyzing accumulations. When multiple factors add up, the results can be devastating.

Early this fall, South Dakota experienced a major blizzard that dropped up to three and a half feet of wet, heavy snow in some areas, leaving 25,000 utility customers without power and people stranded in cars or unable to leave their homes. Snowmobiles were used to rescue people trapped in their cars.

Winter Storms

All across the country, you’ll find differing opinions of what constitutes a major winter storm. A half-inch of snow in southern regions can bring school closures and hazardous travel, while in the far north, snowfalls of six to twelve inches are not only common, but welcomed as they attract tourists for skiing and snowmobiling.

Ice however, can paralyze any area and when it comes to electric power, ice storms can cause extensive damage to local electrical grids. When the temperature hovers near 32 degrees, falling rain can freeze on utility lines and accumulate until the sheer weight of the ice snaps the lines. Ice also gathers on trees, causing limbs to break and fall onto power lines.

When utility lines go down, it can hours or even days for crews to restore service. Meanwhile, homes and businesses without electricity are cold and dark.


Prepare in advance for winter storms. The worst time to head for the grocery store is right after a storm is predicted. Instead, keep a supply of canned foods and bottled water on hand. An emergency supply that will last three to five days is a good idea, longer for coastal regions that experience hurricanes and tropical storms.

Emergency generators can supply power that keeps your furnace running, the basement dry, and refrigerated food supplies from spoiling. In rural areas, they keep well pumps working. Any home with a basement and sump pump will need electrical power to prevent flooding. Standby generators work automatically, are permanently installed, and many run on your home’s existing natural or LP gas supply.

Portable generators can also supply emergency power, but don’t run automatically and require a continuous supply of fresh fuel―sometimes difficult to find during a power outage or when the region is buried in snow.

Make a Plan

Decide in advance how you will weather a winter storm. Buy non-perishable food items to keep for emergencies, and then rotate the supply by replacing and then using it on a regular basic.

Generators require advance preparation. Standby generators have been called the next must-have appliance, but you won’t buy one in the morning and have it working by lunchtime. It takes an electrician, plumber, and building permits to install the generator and automatic transfer switch, and those are things that take time. There are also decisions to make before you purchase regarding size, placement, and what you will power during an emergency.

Portables generators also require advance preparation: a place to store enough fuel to last a few days, installation of a manual transfer switch, and where you will position it during use. You should also understand how to operate it safely, and never backfeed your home by plugging it into an existing appliance outlet―a dangerous practice that could kill a utility worker.

Vehicle Preparedness

Don’t forget your vehicle when preparing for winter storms. Keep some warm blankets in the car and emergency food items like energy bars, chocolate, and unsalted nuts. While traveling, bring water along for use during an emergency. If you are stranded, that 500ml bottle of water you drank earlier won’t help you much. Instead, bring a 1 liter bottle of water for each person in the car for use in an emergency. A multi-wick candle kept in a coffee can will supply a surprising amount of heat.

Alway take your winter coat, hat, and mittens or gloves with you when traveling, whether around the block or across the state.

Winter brings its own set of difficulties, but the right preparation will keep you warm and safe at home or on the road. The National Weather Service Winter Preparedness Guide.

Photo Courtesy Wikimedia Commons 

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The Generac Promise

The Generac Promise

The #1 selling brand of home standby generators. A Home Standby generator provides the automatic backup power you need to protect your home and family during a power outage.

USA Engineered and Built
Generac invented the home standby generator category in 1977, and we still engineer and build them right here in Wisconsin.  With over a million square feet of vertically integrated manufacturing and distribution space we are able to meet the needs of our customers.


Customer Care
Power outages do not always occur during normal working hours – that is why we have implemented a 24/7-365 customer care call center right here in Wisconsin.  That means we are standing by 24/7, every minute of every day to answer your calls. 1-888-GENERAC (1-888-436-3722)


Five Year Limited Warranty
We are proud of our innovative product design, high quality and first-class reliability so that is why we stand behind them with a strong 5-year limited warranty.



Mobile Link

We promise to listen to our customer’s needs and continue to innovate with new solutions, like our new Mobile Link™ cellular monitoring system ,so you’ll always know the status of your generator, no matter where you are.


The # 1 Home Standby Generator Just Got Better

The # 1 Home Standby Generator Just Got Better

Reliable. Dependable. We promise.  USA Engineered and Built

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Tropical Storm Karen Takes Aim on Gulf Coast – Florida Panhandle

The storm track and cone with coastline watches of TS Karen

Tropical Storm Karen Heads for the Florida Panhandle

Tropical storm Karen formed out of an area of showers and thunderstorms in the southern Gulf of Mexico today. The system was already producing gale force winds and bringing rain to Cuba and the Yucatan Peninsula. A hurricane hunter aircraft extensively explored the area yesterday and found the system more organized than expected, but it was not yet a tropical cyclone.

Update: Friday, 10:00 am CDT. Karen has weakened slightly, but will likely regain some strength as it brushes by Louisiana and then makes landfall on Sunday morning near Pensacola, Florida. Expect strong tropical force winds from 60 to 70 MPH and rainfall amounts of 6 to 12 inches. Be aware of flash flooding, especially in low lying areas.

Karen has a northern track and will probably make landfall on the Florida Panhandle near Pensacola sometime on Saturday. There remains some probability for further strengthening and with sustained winds already exceeding 65 MPH, it is possible the storm could become a category one hurricane before it makes landfall.

After landfall, the current track of the storm takes it on northeasterly direction up through Alabama, Georgia and into South Carolina, but may affect Tennessee and Kentucky as well. It will lose strength overland, but is expected to retain tropical storm force winds and heavy rain as far north as Virginia.

Warnings and Watches

The National Hurricane Center has issued a hurricane watch for the Gulf Coast from Indian Pass, Florida, to Grand Isle, Louisiana. A tropical storm watch is in effect for New Orleans and the coastline to Morgan City, Louisiana.

A watch means that conditions are likely for a storm to occur in a given area and are given as a storm approaches. Warnings are issued approximately 36 hours in advance of landfall and indicate that a storm will arrive within that timeframe.

In addition to high winds, watch-area residents should prepare for power outages, inland flooding, storm surge and pay attention to local news for information about evacuations. Tornadoes are also possible just before, during, and after a tropical storm or hurricane makes landfall. Expect heavy rain and flash flooding.

Power Outages

Hurricanes can cause extensive damage to the power grid and residents may find themselves without power for extended periods of time. The best defense against a power outage is a standby generator that operates on natural gas or propane. They are permanently installed systems that work with an automatic transfer switch to supply power automatically in the event of an outage and can operate for extended periods. Since they rely on natural gas or LP supplies, they don’t need continuous refueling.

Portable generators are another option, but require a steady supply of fuel―usually gasoline or diesel, but some models use propane or natural gas. Most can connect to a home through a manual transfer switch, or supply appliances directly using extension cords. Stock supplies of fuel well in advance of the storm. You may not be able to buy fuel once the storm makes landfall.


Pay attention to local news and if your area is evacuated, do not wait. Leave as soon as possible and follow the evacuation routes. The sooner you leave, the less trouble you will have and the less traffic you will encounter.

Follow local guidelines for preparing your home against high winds and flooding. If you are staying put to ride out the storm, make sure that your portable generator placement won’t endanger your life, or the lives of your neighbors.

Remember that your property is not worth risking your life for. Hurricanes are dangerous storms and flooding and storm surge are more dangerous than high winds.

Map by Google Maps.

Storm Track by the National Hurricane Center

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Five Reasons to Own a Standby Generator for Home Use

As our reliance on electrical power grows, our lives are increasingly impacted by a loss of power, whatever the reason. Interruptions range from events that affect only a few homes, to entire regions, and causes include violent weather events, automobile accidents, and human error.

Standby generators provide electrical power when the supply from the electric utility is interrupted. Unlike portable units, a standby generator starts and runs without operator intervention in the event of a power emergency. They work with an automatic transfer switch which selects between utility power and generator power.



A power outage without a backup generator can mean countless dollars in groceries going to waste.

It only takes a few hours for the temperature inside a refrigerator or freezer to begin rising, even if the door is kept closed. Once the temperature of a refrigerator reaches 40 degrees, the rate at which food becomes unsafe to eat increases dramatically. And each time the door is opened, the temperature rises again.

Food begins to thaw at 32 degrees and it may take as little as 12 hours for some freezers to reach the thaw point. A standby generator can keep food from thawing and spoiling even during extended outages that last days or even weeks.

Heating and Cooling

funraceThe systems that cool and heat homes do more than provide comfort and safety for people. Heat prevents pipes from freezing. Frozen pipes often burst, and when they do the resulting flood is devastating. The pipe that leads into a home can supply hundreds of gallons of water per hour. If you’re not home to shut it off, or to call a plumber to shut it off at the street, the ensuing flood can cause thousands of dollars in damage.

Summer heat and humidity can take its toll quickly on people, and keeping the air conditioner operational during a power outage may mean the difference between camping out in a hotel or staying home and sleeping in comfort.

Medical Equipment

Emergency room

Modern hospital simply couldn’t save lives and function the way that they do without the support of electrical backup systems.

The use of home medical equipment has increased dramatically in the past two decades. Oxygen concentrators, wheelchair lifts, equipment for paraplegics and quadriplegics, ventilators and CPAP machines, and even home dialysis equipment all rely on electrical power. Many of these devices run off an uninterruptible power supply, but those require batteries that only last a short time.

Standby generators that supply utility-grade power can keep home medical equipment operating. Those using the equipment are able to stay home instead of packing up their equipment and seeking shelter elsewhere.

Safety Systems


Lisa Dunn works to salvage what she can from her newly-remodeled, now flooded, basement of her Greenwood home in Seattle on Monday, December 3, 2007. (Staff Photo/Seattle Post-Intelligencer/Mike Kane)

Home alarm systems provide security and safety that many homeowners rely on to protect their families and property. When the power goes out, the battery that powers a security system may last less than a day, leaving the home vulnerable. This is especially true after a widespread disaster such as a hurricane or other weather event when the power may be out for days or even weeks.

Sump pumps keep basements dry by removing water. Power outages frequently occurs during storms when the pump is needed the most. In some areas, flooding can begin just minutes after the power goes out. Even a battery-backup pump will only last a few hours during a heavy storm. With a standby generator operating automatically, even when you are not home, the pump keeps running and the basement stays dry.


TVThe last thing anyone needs is a power outage. Without electricity, none of the day-to-day conveniences of everyday life are available. Cooking becomes more difficult, the computer and TV don’t work, kids can’t play their games. When night arrives the candles come out.

A generator can keep the power on while utility crews work on restoring the flow of electricity to neighborhoods, towns, and cities. When utility power is restored, the transfer switch automatically reconnects the home to the utility supply and the generator shuts down, whether you’re home, at work, or on vacation. There are models to meet every need, from units for small homes and cottages to models for large luxury homes.

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