Prepping: Survival Weather Knowledge

You can’t live aboard a 40-foot sailboat, sailing everything from the NW tip of Vancouver Island to Mexico (except for the middle part of Oregon, due to trucking the boat from Seattle to Alameda…) without learning a few things about “the weather.”

More than once, weather knowledge has paid-off many times over.

Yet, most wannabe survival sites, there’s not nearly enough attention paid to the weather, except by a few “real deal” guys like Bear Grylls.  Even Grylls, by the way, had a life-threatening “learning experience” delivered by bee strings last month.

The weather, in a sense of Grylls’ bee-stings, is also in a special category of “What you don’t know  can  kill you.”

I’ve only had a brush with exposure, but it was very  educational to say the least.  Let me tell you about it…

It began with a late-in-the-day decision one winter afternoon to my 40-foot sailboat from Seattle (Shilshole Marina, M dock) over to Poulsbo, Washington.  It was cold, about 38F, but with just the big jib flying, I made pretty good time westbound on a broad reach, coming to weather a bit at the entrance to Agate Pass.

There, the wind died, so on goes the diesel, in furls the sail, and oh, gosh, a good 3+ knot current was running against me, so there was only one choice, really:  Keep going to Poulsbo, understanding that the next 90-minutes would be spent at the helm doing the break-neck speed of 3-knots to the mark. (turning point where the water was deep enough to head up to the northwest)

While the wind was down, the temperature kept dropping.  By the time I rounded the mark to head up toward Liberty Bay, the air temp was about 34F and occasional sleet was bouncing off the brightwork now and then.

All this time I had been standing at the wheel since I didn’t trust the autopilot in the current.  Kevlar ocean jacket, layers under, but damn I was cold.  By the time I pulled into the Poulsbo Marina, I was thoroughly cooled to the core.  Dangerously.

How  cold only became apparent when I started “pushing the boat around” for docking.  Not to brag, but I could usually spin the boat  in a 50-foot wide fairway – which when you’re dealing with 40-feet of boat is good boat-handling.  (I’ve seen people drop their jaws when I’ve done it in tight places full of furniture boats, like Victoria, BC is mid-summer…)

This time, as I began to set up for docking (remember, I’m all alone and it’s now almost dark and there’s no one else stupid enough to be out boating in sleet and cold…) I noticed my body wasn’t reacting quite right.  Everything felt…well…heavy.   What’s more, there was what can only be described as serious brain-fog, too.

As I got the boat lined up, into a slip  and jumped from the deck down onto the dock, that’s when I almost went in the drink.  The sleet was now thick-enough that it was slippery.  As ice tends to be.  I recovered, cleated-down the boat, plugged in shore power in a flash and got below decks where the heating system had things at a toasty 75F.

It’s typical of a dedicated sailor not to have gone in for some heat on the way up to Poulsbo.  Puget Sound is known fod “dead-heads” and debris, so you keep a sharp eye ahead all the time.  Breaking sailboats is expensive business.

Looking back, I had been snookered by my own self-confidence.  I knew how to do all these baby-steps in the dark.  What I didn’t know  or fully appreciate was how quickly old “personal limits” moved when the brain gets cold enough and the body core temp drops.  Suddenly what was once a piece of cake becomes something to be carefully thought through, step-wise, or there would not be a “happy ending.”

As a reporter I’d seen other people make plenty of weather-related judgement errors.  Usually, on lakes in summer when a thunderstorm rolls through, it isn’t that bad.  Even if the boat sinks, if the water is 70F, you still have about 3-hours, or longer of water survival time before hypothermia (or exhaustion) sets in.

In Puget Sound waters, winter, and in my late 40’s, a passable floater but weighed down by sailing gear, I figured my survival time would be about 30-minutes in the 48-degree water.  Up at the north end of the Sound, toward the Strait of Juan de Fuca, survival times in winter drop to 15-20 minutes.

Against that backdrop, you choose your sailing companions more carefully and make sure they learn to reverse course on the boat and how to use the LifeSling – one of the best safety devices ever.  (I had one of the first when they were introduced.  Here’s a 2011 video showing how to use one. My other innovation was putting a radar reflector on the boat’s “overboard pole” so I could find the MOB spot in the dark using radar.)

That said, there are a number of overboard turns that can be made sailboat to start recovery.  Which one depends on sea-state, level of crew training, body strength, windspeed, and boat-handling ability of the person on the helm.  At all times, the captain has to call-out which emergency turn to use every time conditions change.  LifeSling training was one of the fundamental pre-voyage checks.  As was tossing in a seat cushion and having everyone take a turn at boat-handling to pick it up using the boat hook.

Motor running?  Different deal.  But when sails are up, oh boy.  You might be able to yell out “Let go the main sheet!” with a mouthful of water and 150-feet distant to someone standing over a running engine, but good luck with that…

Left Hand Rule

When you are on inland waters, turn your back directly to the wind and then point straight outfrom your side  with your left-hand.  That’s where the center of whatever low pressure system is likely to be (generally the source of precip, wiond, lightning, and such) roughly.

On Wednesday, I happened to be up on the shop roof sweeping off deadfall and pine needles ahead of the rain.  Wind was from about due east.  My back to it, pointing left told me the center of the low from this week’s storm were still (more or less) down in the Houston area.

As it passed, the wind would “back” (go counterclockwise) as the low worked its way north and east of us.

Now, there are lot of other “rules of storms” – and a simple Google search will net you so many videos of right and left hand rules that your head will spin. For survival, simple.  Back to wind, stick left arm out to the side, that’s where the low should be.  Good (or at least bettrer) weather  is generally to the right.

Back to the East, Houston/Galveston to the left-hand, Dallas was what the right-hand suggested would be a better picnic location.

Offshore sailing is more complex than this, of course.  Here, you need other rules in order not to sail into the wrong quadrant of a typhoon (Pacific) or hurricane (Atlantic).  One rule says get on a starboard reach as soon as possible.  (Starboard being the right side of the boat when facing forward.)

A reach is 90-degrees to the wind, so a starboard reach with wind from the east, would have sailed us toward Dallas.  As the low moved northward, and the wind backed to northerly, the starboard reach would head us toward El Paso.  Though VMG (velocity made good to the mark) works better with water and a sailboat, not a double-wide and outbuildings on heavsily timbered land.  But you figured that out without help, I hope.

Daily Wind Changes

A “mental weather log” is useful, though most people don’t do it.  Begin to notice the weather around you.  Then correlate it to what comes next.  In Seattle, rain comes from the southwest.  In Texas, the rain comes from the south/southeast where we live.  And cold, clear weather comes from the north/northwest.  Sure, it came come from any point on the compass, but direction of surface winds, especially when they pipe up a bit, is a big clue.  Only if you understand it and that only comes from awareness.  Most places, rain follows wind from one direction in particular.

Flying and boating are usually best early in the early morning around dawn, or as the light is fading fast at night.  Because the wind dies down overnight, as a general rule.  A NOAA article for The Front, offers a lot more details, but here’s the key part outlined by meteorologist Jeff Halblaub.:

 “During the night, the loss of the sun’s radiation causes the earth’s surface to lose the heat it builds up during the day. This cooling creates a shallow, stable layer of air near the ground, resulting in a temperature inversion. In an inversion, the temperature in the layer above the ground is actually warmer than it is near the surface. The increased stability limits the transfer of temperature, humidity, and wind down to the surface from the rest of the atmosphere above. The term for this is called decoupling, where this layer is no longer “aware” of what is occurring above it. The winds above the inversion can be strong while in the stable layer below, winds are calm or light.”

If you’re camping in the summer, you may find cooler nights in a valley.  Or (since my son G2 in a snow-camper and reads avalanche conditions like a book) sometimes, higher up can be warmer due to the inversion effect.  Granularity of the snow, temperatures up-slope all change avalanche risk.

Ananbatic winds are common in the Spokane and Idaho area.  They “run up” the western slopes of the rockies and result in afternoon clouds at the warm moist air is tossed up over places like Mullan Pass, ID.

Katabactic winds are compressed down-canyon winds in the mountains.  All part of a system of geotropic winds which are related to the ground’s friction.

Prevailing Winds

Depends on the terrain you’re hiking, but you can actually hold a fair course by understanding prevailing winds in a region.  Start by going to the NOAA Digital Forecast page here and selecting winds.

The government’s use of wind barb symbols is exactly counter-intuitive.  The end of a wind-barb points INTO THE WIND.  Which is totally illogical, but once you have the decoder ring…like so….

The barbs above are all showing a wind from the West…and why they barbs would lean into the wind is just nuts.  But, not my wheelhouse, not my steamboat.  (These people believe in “climate change” too, one could cynically note.)

If you know what the usual winds are in an area  (northwest or southwest winds up Put Sound in Seattle, north-northwest or south-southeast for arriving weather in this part of Texas) you can make some educated guesses about overlanding (hiking) by just watching clouds, if they are low enough.

Nature is the Best Forecaster

If you ever get off the phone and out into reality again, you’ll find there’s a great deal to be learned from animals.  When cattle are lying down, for example, notice their direction and the wind.  Animals usually point into the wind.  Keeps the bugs at the other end, or some-such.  If you had a cow butt, would you want “bad air from that” headed near your face?

Some areas (*like here) see movement of turtles a day to three before big rain events.  Or, certain trees, like our tamarinds, will turn their leaves out to the wind prior to rain arriving.  Cats will suddenly become interested in companionship, and get real interested in going inside.  Zeus hears lightning at about 20-miles and does a personality shift.

Lightning is a Prepping Risk, too.

In the event of a SHTF event, things like lightning need to be considered, especially if you’re forced to overland.  As a NOAA website advices:

“When a Safe Location is not Nearby

“If you absolutely cannot get to safety, you can slightly lessen the threat of being struck with the following tips. But don’t kid yourself–you are NOT safe outside. Know the weather patterns of the area you plan to visit. For example, in mountainous areas, thunderstorms typically develop in the early afternoon, so plan to hike early in the day and be down the mountain by noon. Listen to the weather forecast for the outdoor area you plan to visit. The forecast may be very different from the one near your home. If there is a high chance of thunderstorms, stay inside.

  • Avoid open fields, the top of a hill or a ridge top.
  • Stay away from tall, isolated trees or other tall objects. If you are in a forest, stay near a lower stand of trees.
  • If you are in a group, spread out to avoid the current traveling between group members.
  • If you are camping in an open area, set up camp in a valley, ravine or other low area. Remember, a tent offers NO protection from lighting.
  • Stay away from water, wet items, such as ropes, and metal objects, such as fences and poles. Water and metal do not attract lightning but they are excellent conductors of electricity. The current from a lightning flash will easily travel for long distances.

For more, see NOAA’s page Lightning Risk Management for Backcountry Campers and Hikers.

Sound is about 1,100 feet per second so you can estimate lightning distance as 5-second per mile.  Likely on the edges of heavy precip bands…but it’s all “risky busines” being ourside in storms.

Some things to study…or at least become a more aware observer when you can.

Some survivalists like to get deep into a cave system, if one’s handy.  (They’re usually not.)  With the caveats of “Way in from the opening and don’t touch the top and bottom of the cave at the same time…” it might seem like an option.

But I just can’t trust caves any more than I trust Fords or government.

Write when you get rich,

george@ure.net

33 thoughts on “Prepping: Survival Weather Knowledge”

  1. I theorize cats are sensitive to infra-sonics. When hurricanes are a couple of days away, our guys become restless — can’t find a happy spot to lay down, constantly re-locating. They act slightly wary and slightly “on-edge.”

    As a hurricane gets closer — maybe a day or two out, this gets more obvious.

    Summer thunderstorms develop quickly, but you can see the same effect shortly before any obvious effects of the storm can be sensed by dullard humans.

    We run three head of cat on this ranch. One Maine Coon, and two American shorthairs, and they’re all the same for this.

    • LOL thanks for sharing. An interesting cat training story.

      Earlier this week, Zeus (leader of our 3-cat herd as well) was laying outside not quite under the overhang of the shop roof. Called him in with 10-minutes on radar before the downpours hit.
      I was promptly “put on ignore.”

      A minute before the deluge, he meandered into the shop…seemingly still pissed that I stole 9-minutes of other nap time from him.

      • They also can be bothered by ‘quakes. Our ‘ol Maine Coon “Kittyboy” (who is 16 now) was agitated like the dickens a short while back, meowing loudly (he’s usually almost silent) and we were concerned he might be having a medical problem….well a 4.0 ‘quake hit about 20 miles from here. Now he’s back to normal.

  2. G – I would add “Lefties” to Fords and Government. Newly proposed Wealth Tax bill currently making the rounds in District of Deceit.. They want to Tax EVERYTHING now – how else they gonna pay for FREE Health Care for the Illegal Immigrants? We need healthy Gang-bangers to keep population in constant state of Fear, and to Vote Demoncratic.

    Cold Water Training & Cold Weather Training sucks! big huge monkey&%@@$ – get chills just reading this post and reminiscing about my own past cold weather/water exploits…imagine dark ocean, no artificial light, deep cold water in “bad” place, waiting…waiting for a pick up – tired/exhausted – gottaa keep moving, waiting.. I HATE the Cold – why I snowbird w/Mrs. Deplorable every year right after Christmas to Central America – Caribbean Coast – its UnBelizeable!

    Rosh Hashanah begins tonight at sundown,place your bets accordingly. Gaza is about to “blow’ soonly. “Alex” I’ll take Airstrikes for $1000..

  3. Caves in a deluge may not be a good place to weather out a storm because the cave may be inundated with water. You have to be familiar with a cave in the wet seasons to know.

  4. The last remaining of the feline herd here at El Rancho de Chaos is also a good weather forecaster. She has 2 locations from which to survey her realm. Primary being the roof peak of the shop which just happens to be beside the antique weather vane that is currently frozen pointing to the N/NW. When she is seen here it portends fair weather. Her other spot is from the woodpile just inside the lean-to where the tractors and implements are staged. When there, expect rain or other bad weather within a day or two. When she is seen lounging in the freshly filled birdbath we just figure she is being weird.

    Mom has had cats for as long as I remember. The farm cats, 9 so far, have final resting places on the ranch behind the well house neatly arranged in a row with flowers planted nearby. I call it the Pet Semetary and mom is always telling me I don’t know how to spell. I gave up trying to explain it to her years ago. The chore of the burials have all fallen to me.

    The current farm resident, Momma Cat, for some reason will run and hide whenever she sees me with a shovel.

    • We find its easier, when a cat passes, to simply wait for the next poacher who is unfortunate enough to cross our property lines. With the tractor out, one simply digs an 8-foot hole, removes the offending intruder to the bottom thereof, then back fills all but the final few feet. There, one tosses-in the late family companion cat in at the 2-foot level.

      The backfill is ready for planting a fast-growing tree (bamboo is ideal) and I have yet to see a move made where the authorities find bodies under root structures.

      People aren’t very creative in big cities. Maybe its best some of us live apart from snarky leftists. Something nice about being a Tree Farmer… gotta mention it to Stephen King’s wife next time she drops by the site… “The Tree Farmer”

      • I have found that posting the property for no trespassing or hunting keeps most of the poachers at bay. In my case, I got tired of sorting out lost lambs from professional poachers from methhead militia from realtors from just plain run of the mill thieves and vandals. If you are on my property carrying a weapon, you got no excuse.
        One sign and purple stripes on some fenceposts takes care of 90% of the problem.

      • I have put 6-cans of hunting purple up and 3-dozen signs. We don’t have issues, but for the rest, we have high quality people repellants. The kind that have long tubes with em.

  5. That left hand rule you describe is only true in the northern hemisphere, George. Those low-pressure weather systems rotate in the other direction in the southern hemisphere.

  6. Morning George,

    Very useful and interesting post this morning. Don’t know how others feel, but for my money I’d love to hear about more of your experiences while sailing. I am sure you found it more than educational. And it obviously colored/influenced your thinking about everything. As has your flying years. But in my opinion it is your years on the water, that most of us can more closely relate to. I say that having served two years at sea in the USN Navy Aboard AO-64 USS Tolovana and AO-51 USS Ashatabula Fleet Oilers. It was the heavy weather that taught me most. It was the weather and waves, sun rises and sun sets, as well as moon light nights that I remember most. So the weather experiences were most valuable to me.

    So more sailing and life afloat stories maybe good. After all, you did prep your boat to go anywhere at any time. Which you did because of the computer time glitch back about year 2000. I know I attended Tucson community survival classes put together by local folks concerned all Hell would break loose.

    So, as a regular daily reader and Peoplenomic’s fan, I appreciate your writing and thinking style and the range of topics you cover. I especially like your woo woo research topics including anti-gravity, time travel, psychic exploration and the like.

    I started to reply to your post where you discussed some topics about aliens and space visitors. Then realized I could not do that, because the topic is so large and even if I’d have narrow cast what I wanted to say, it would still have been a large post.

    Anyway the whole mix is great,

    Roger in Tucson

    • Thanks Roger. Yeah…my problem is I am too wealthy now and that’s harder (by orders of magnitude) than being poor.
      Which is not to say we’re “rich” – but, like you, when one as assiduously avoided debt and owes little to nothing at the end of the month, then – even though we spend $1000 a month and food and booze, TP and paper towels – that still leaves us with enough to fund almost any kind of person research and learning we feel like. Music, physics, reading, computers, ham radio, art, gardens, hydroponics, and even the time travel/warping work. It’s mind-boggling.

      The BIG problem though is how to allocate time.
      Here it is Sunday and I have worked in the shop a good part of the day (4-hours) and on the site a few hours (2-3) talking to people (1-2) eating (.7) and planning for the coming week (.5) plus shopping for an ultra-rare Kachina1 SSB transceiver and manuals and, and…

      My friend Larry Coffman who publishes “Marketing NW” (http://marketingnw.com/author/larry-coffman/) told me over a glass of champagne at the old Sixth Ave Motor Hotel in Seattle (great business bar back in the day, BTW and cheaper than the old Trader Vic’s a block over at the Westin back when) that what I needed to work on was FOCUS. “Damn it Guru,” he told me. “You’re a genius…but you HAVE to work more on FOCUS. Just do ONE thing.”

      No chance.

      And that’s the curse, you see: When you get as much “fun” out of life as I do, there’s no difference in the joy between sailing, putting out a well-baked loaf of bread, tuning a new carb you just installed on a piece of outdoor power equipment, or chasing down an obscure piece of electronics from the 1960’s to bring a piece of antique radio gear back to life. Equally, working on deciphering the nuances of “acoustic lift” technology, time travel (via excitation of low pressure plasmas) and lots of other things captivate as well. Life is too short for smart, inquisitive people but years too long for lazy dopes.

      It’s this feeding of our ADHD that matters. And it’s a curse. But, fun, too…

      Best woman/companion/friend in the world, over a million square feet of land with no building department…well, you get the idea. Given a hammer, we can (and have) gone nuts in that area of self-expression as well.

      That’s the point, Roger. Most people confuse “wealth” as buying with “that which can be converted into things.”

      When, in my experience (I think Elaine’s sneaking up on the idea, too…) it’s really the memories and the learning that matters most. Learning to be a co-creator of your own universe. We’re both “learning machines” and we have immense life experiences. So we go bouncing from this to that, and…oh-oh…Look! There’s something new over that way….

      My biggest problem when I fire up the keyboard with that first cup of coffee on Mondays is not WHAT to write. It’s what gets left out.

      So I tend (the older I get) to focus more on the items that I (we) would see as important if we could just roll the clock back 40 years. What would really matter if we were to drop back into our 30’s? Our 40’s? Even our 50’s? Even that last number – frighteningly large to kids – would be more than 20 YEARS off the odometer of life, if you can believe it! ( I remember your age, so yeah, even more for you!)

      That’s what UrbanSurvival is about, really. The useful stuff. If my son finds this website useful at age 38 (for another few weeks) then mission accomplished.

      We were talking this morning and G2 made a most interesting remark. “I sent you a weekly memo from the Chief (he’s a volunteer and EMT) and as I was reading it, I couldn’t tell if I was reading your stuff, or his….”

      Not sure what it means, exactly, but somewhere in there is a bundle about voices of experience. People who’ve walked a few coals. I know, it’s tempting to get all involved, in useless political hype-ology and let the blood pressure move up and get partisan, but the big picture always has been “We come in with nothing” (at least that most remember, save a few child prodigies) and the question is how much can we pick up along the way and sneak out with us embedded in our souls as we move onto the next incarnation?

      Meantime, maybe some people subconsciously want to be poor (of spirit) because they’re afraid of what they might find when they dig in and grind on it 24-7. Water it a few years and see what your Life grows.

      Sure. Scary when you do it, especially the first few times, but in the long-run that’s the “cheat” Roger for what to seize from Life….

      I sure appreciate the comments and it’s an honor to have friends in the valley.

      • My friends used to tell me I have WAY too many interests. And it’s true. Same friends used to come to me for advice on various and weird topics because… “you know everything, don’t you?” I’m not ‘rich’ either, but no debt, paid-for home, and way too many projects stacked up for “someday when I’m retired with lots of time”.

        Now about that mercury vapor plasma… How much power were you running when you lit up the fluorescent tubes on your dipole? I’m only running 100 watts and the tubes at the wire ends will not light up at that power level. Very disappointing. Now I guess I need a linear ‘time amplifier’ to excite my plasmas.

      • Morning George,

        I can seriously commiserate with you. A few years after I was done with active duty in the Navy, I was looking for work here in Tucson. Back in the early 60’s jobs were hard to come by.

        I interviewed with one of the high end insurance companies for a sales job. They refused me, because I had way to many interests. They said, I could not focus. Which of course was incorrect. The work situation was what eventually led me to apply to Boeing when they had a strong recruiting drive here in March/April 1966.

        I got hired and moved to Seattle in early May 66. The day I left here it was 101 F.
        Five days later I was standing in line outside in Renton and it was 55 F. I was wearing my Peacoat and still shivering. Too big a temp change for me. That afternoon I remember driving out toward Alki Beach searching for an apt.

        There was a “point” as I turned west, that looked back at the Seattle skyline,
        it was a little park and viewing area, It is afternoon, and still very cool from my POV. And low and behold, there is a very boxum young thing laying out in a bikini. I thought she was nuts because it was so chilly.

        A year later in May, I was walking down a street in downtown Seattle wearing grey slacks, black turtleneck sweater, and a maroon blazer and I was breaking a sweat. I noticed a big thermometer on the street. 53 degree’s!!! I’d adjusted. LOL.

        Don’t know if you ever heard of the club…The A-Go-Go? it was a popular disco late 60’s. The owner used to feature bands who were releasing records, using Seattle as a test market. If it did well there, then they figured it would do well nationally. So he had very good bands regularly. There was another club on the way to Alki Beach that had good music. Used to stop by there nightly after work (swing shift), on the way home. Had an apt all the way out on Alki Beach. Quiet.

        I was a precision machinist for ten years, traveled all over the US from 68-70. Settled in Houston because of the Boeing shut down in late 69. 73 became a piping designer because of the pay. That led to years of a itinerate life style as a job shopper. Always moving to another job for another dollar and hour wage increase. Not a bad way to live as a single guy. Saw a lot of the US that way.

        Looking back on everything and considering my interests, I sure missed a lot of interesting adventures. But, I did what I could with what I had, and it was all good.

        You are smart and lucky to have met and married Elaine. I am happy for you both. Its a good marriage and relationship you have. I get a chuckle out of the fact you married a woman who lived so close to Travis Walton the famous abductee. LOL

        Have a great week and thanks for the memories. I have to go get thing battened down outside. Expect heavy rains today and tomorrow.

        Cheers,

        Roger

        As a young guy it was my home away from home on Saturday nights. I liked Seattle.

      • “My friends used to tell me I have WAY too many interests. ”

        Me too.. the thing for me is it had to have purpose. And once the mystery was gone and I figured it out then I get bored.. I did find purpose in caring for others.. you’ll never see it all..and then to help someone as well during their weakest time of their life ..
        I really wanted yo be a histologist that we ould fascinate me to with never ending scenarios.. but time and money to get a piece of paper wasn’t in the cards..
        Techs can usually tell you long before test results are in what’s going on.. they dont but after seeing a few thousand of this and that you know..

  7. When the dies were made, all the critters got all the gifts before we came along. What we got was opposable thumbs and the abilities to reason and develop common sense (I leave it up to the readers to decide exactly how well we’ve used these skills.)

    ALL animals “feel” severe weather, fire, floods, and earthquakes, hours or days before they happen. When you see Jim Cantore standing in front of a hotel, with hurricane winds raging in the background, you don’t see any birds. They’ve all gone inland and away from the hurricane’s path. If you’re observant, a dog, cat, horse, pig, cow, or sheep will tell you before something bad comes your way. They’ll tell you the direction from which it’ll approach and clue you in on its severity. Wild animals move to a safe area; domestic or caged animals will look to you for protection, and generally act “out of character” — “lovey” or “clingy.”

    As a Midwestern storm spotter, my principal concern is tornadoes, and in the daytime, my principal focus is birds. They ALWAYS get out of the way, and always fly perpendicular to the storm track. “Why,” and “how do they know” don’t concern me, only that they do, and typically do so long before (like 30 minutes to an hour, which is f o r e v e r in early-warning time) the TVS shows up on my radar. The radar gives me 0-5 minutes warning, nature gives me something useful…

  8. I got into a hornet’s nest last month. It was unpleasant. I booked it to the nearest drugstore, where I purchased fresh Benadryl and a box of baking soda. BTW, the pharmacist told me to take double the recommended dose for the first 24, because I was treating active stings. I grabbed my purchases and dove into the store’s restroom, where I made baking soda poultices and applied them to the stings.

    No shock. Not really any reaction at all (unlike the last time and its associated hospital stay.) The pain was gone within a few hours, the itching, by about 24. Some of the swelling was with me for 3 days, but it didn’t hurt. ‘Thing is, I was applying moist bicarb to the stings less than 5 minutes after receiving them, and I didn’t know to double-down on the Benedryl until I told that pharmacist why I was in his store.

    …And yes, I have both in my home kit, but the kit was farther away than the drugstore, and like with any poisoning, time is critical. However, lesson learned, and I’ll be adding a package of baking soda to my GO-Bag’s med compartment at next audit.

    • BTW, CRC’s Brakleen makes a wonderful hornet nest removal tool. It used to be trichloroethane, which is the “instant-kill” ingredient in DDT, but they pulled it in favor of a “green” alternative, then “brought it back” some months later when the “green deal” proved to be a “no-deal…” ‘Cept they brought it back as dIchloroethane. Apparently EPA didn’t like that third covalent chlorine bond. It still kills the little buggers on contact but by using an ether carrier, isn’t persistent ;-)

      In researching, I discovered DDT was a great insecticide. I already knew it’s flaw (and that of every multiple covalent-bonded petro-based chlorine compound) is it persists in the environment. What I didn’t know was why: The ChemCos use a petroleum carrier (the dichloro diphenyl part) which doesn’t break down. The TCE goes away in minutes, in free air. It was the petro component which caused the damn’ stuff to persist until it leached into water supplies and food.

      I also learned DDT is the only insecticide which is 100% effective on bedbugs, and because of that, there are a bunch of “bathtub labs” in NYC making the stuff. You and I can’t buy or use name-brand DDT unless we go to Bangladesh, but we can get the generic on the Bronx black market…

      • “doesn’t break ”

        One of my hats was making that stuff. That’s exactly the reason why they used it

      • It’s a really good binder for bio and chem agents.. I didnt make DDT but made other pesticides similar.
        If you’ve ever owned a car that burned oil you’d know you stand away from the smoke it gets on everything and I’d hard to get off..
        It’s that very issue that’s coming up now with vaping.. but then which is worse smoking or vaping

      • “DDT is the only insecticide which is 100% effective on bedbugs,”

        The reason that its so affective on bed bugs is bed bugs have an exo-skeleton and it adheres and seals off the pores forcing the pesticide..you can get good results with diatomaceous earth..and nicotine or ground cinnamon..it will also keep spider population down to to.. dust it along floor boards ( real lightly if you see it its probably to much)
        Oil products are cheaper than vegitable products it sticks to everything.. I will never forget there was a rush order for malathion.. 5000 gallons .. rather than mix it in the mixer they just had me add it to the tanker to mix on its own..
        Tri chlor. I loved that stuff or agent orange lol i almost killed the apple tree with that. one past. squirt 25 feet away.. the wife made me dispose of what little bit i had lol but god what a weed killer.. the one that scared me was the toilet bowl cleaner.. I was to mix up a batch of that.. went put in the acid resistant bung turned to get something and the bung was gone..the vapor are the bung..then have everyone telling you horror stories about it.. I wont buy that even today in diluted form.. I use a non toxic enzyme cleaner.. or dump a little vinegar or a can of coke (phosphoric acid) lemon or orange oil baking soda etc. All good non toxic cleaners..

      • I’ve sent my list to George twice, but I’ll tell y’all now, TCE (now DCE) and TBC are two of my favorite cleaners. I use “The Works” toilet bowl cleaner because it’s 33% hydrochloric acid with no fillers — same percentage the steel mills use to clean bare steel before oiling it up and shipping it out. Ya has ta watch it, and pull the ferrous metal before the TBC begins to eat it as well, but it’ll turn a rusty bit into smooth, bright steel, more easily than anything else. I’d a lot rather have sealed quarts of TBC setting around than 20n muriatic acid (although I do have a couple jugs of that, too…)

        My other favorite cleaners (‘cuz I know somebody’s gonna ask) are gasoline and kerosene, and dishwashing liquid (often used to remove traces of gasoline and kerosene… :-)

      • “His emails may have exploded enroute”

        Not true! I only include oxidizers in E-Mails to people I don’t like…

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