Storm Warnings

By , January 2, 2010

Yesterday the New Year came in with a 50-knot storm from the north. The “wind drought” is now in reverse—we’re working off the batteries without wind charging, as we don’t want to run our generator on those wind speeds.

I’ve lately been chiding myself for being so conservative with the generator. It supposedly has a survival speed of 120 mph. I should be able to run it safely in higher winds, within reason.

However, we hiked out on New Year’s Eve day to do laundry in town. The freezing temperatures right now don’t allow us to do it by hand here at home. It was a cold, clear day, with northerly winds around 40 knots, which made for a bitter crossing. As we cleared the forest, we saw a neighbor’s wind generator, the same make and model as ours, out of commission. In higher gusts or steady winds, this design will “furl” or “feather,” allowing the stronger wind to pivot the blades away from the wind’s force. This is meant to prevent damage in higher winds. This machine had furled, then stuck in that position! This is very bad—another neighbor’s older machine did this last winter (I believe he lubricated the pivot, which you’re not supposed to do). A subsequent gust literally blew the machine apart!

I don’t know how or when the neighbor’s machine stuck. I haven’t had an opportunity to ask her about it. Another neighbor said that the winds on the bay hadn’t been as strong as ours on the canal side. Maybe my timidity has been a good thing!

We charged a bit in the morning, before the winds developed. Actually, it seems most of the heavy weather was north of us, near Skagway. We charged again in the afternoon. It did well, but the occasional gust made things a bit tense; I kept watching the generator out the window, and didn’t like how it snapped into furling so abruptly. Looked like an accident waiting to happen!

Luckily, we’re getting some solar on these cold sunny days. The winds will abate somewhat over the weekend, and things will normalize, I’m sure.

This is a good day to hunker down, sit inside and think, especially about my sister, Beth, whose birthday is today.

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