Saturday, April 21, 2012

Preparing for the Buffalo April Storm

The offices of Buffalo meteorologists are once again abuzz with their favorite word- SNOW- but this time it is forecast for late April. Not that we hardy folk are strangers to unseasonal weather shifts, it is part of life here on the Niagara Frontier. 

Of course, what really grabs out attention is when weather forecasters throw around the term, "It could be another October Surprise."

As I look out my living room window at the budding trees in my yard, I realize that this statement is a means of urging precaution as much as it is a ploy to keep us tuned in to the TV just a little longer.  For what caused the destruction of the October Storm was wet snow clinging to our tree leaves; the limbs broke bringing down power cables across Western New York.  Some people were without power for two-weeks.

The October Surprise storm taught us so much about ourselves, glued to the radio for a week, working together, and utilizing skills most of us forgot.  I lived in Lockport at the time and was disappointed that we were only without power for three days.  I am a backpacker and a bit of a survivalist - moments like those are what I live for. 

Everyone should have a survival kit

I had lanterns, sleeping bags, stoves, fuel, and food.  However, most people found themselves greatly unprepared. 
So, what can you do to prepare yourself and your family?
  • Fill your vehicles up with gas
  • Fill up containers, and perhaps the bathtub, with water.  Plan on one gallon per person per day.  
  • Inventory your food supplies, plan on unrefrigerated easy to prepare food. 
  • If you have a generator, make sure it is in working condition and that you have enough fuel for it.  
  • Review how to cook and boil water without succumbing to Carbon Monoxide poisoning. 
  • Keep your cell phone charged.
  • Make sure you have a portable radio with batteries.  Information is key in a disaster.  
  • Have a few flashlights and battery powered lanterns.  Look for lights with LED bulbs- they are much more battery efficient.  
  • Check your battery supply.  Trying to find batteries was impossible during the October catastrophe.  

If you want to know what to include in a survival kit, check out my article Prepare Your Family for Disaster: Survival Kits and Bug Out Bags

Most importantly in any disaster, is to look our for other people in your community that might need help.  Granted, your family comes first, but make sure you check in on elderly neighbors.

I love the snow, but I hate to see our community suffer.  I hope that the weather prognosticators are wrong on this April storm.  

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Biking The Canalway Trail from North Tonawanda into Buffalo

High winds, heat, and a potential storm - great day for a bike ride along the Erie Canal and Niagara River. 

Though I'm not a cyclist, I like riding my bike for recreation as well as transportation.  Why am I not a cyclist?  Probably because I identify myself as a backpacker, a mountaineer, and a kayaker - those are the schema around which I base my life.  Also, I've never really embraced the cycling culture, I look ridiculous in bike shorts, my bikes are ill suited for what I do, and I don't hang out with other cyclists.  I'm just a guy that rides a bike. 

Of course, I'm training to tour the Erie Canal from Albany to Buffalo next month so I guess I am kind of a cyclist; however, I wear my bicycling shorts underneath a pair of hiking pants.

Anyway, I started from my home in North Tonawanda, weaving through the sleepy streets riddled with bike flipping potholes till I reached the relative safety of the Erie Canalway Trail, which is paved and generally car free.

Niawanda Park was busy as usual with people holing hands strewn out across the trail - always keep a hand on your break and watch your speed.  Because of the wind, there weren't many cyclists out but a few joggers and walkers abounded. I even saw a roller blader: I didn't think people did that anymore. 

A little while past the Grand Island Bridge and not quite to the LaFarge plant, I saw a curious sign.  One that has been there for a while apparently and one that I never paid any attention to. 

I didn't pay much attention to it this time either, until I saw this sign: 

Yes, the Town of Tonawanda succumbed to the marketing tactics of annoying road side attractions like South of the Border.  Anyone who has ever driven through the Carolinas know about their obnoxious signs which appear for hours before and after passing the tourist trap. 

So what was there, warranting four signs - two in both directions - this:
 A short paved trail led to a shallow muddy flat with a sign stating "The Original Erie Canal" with a blurb about the foundation of the waterway on both sides.  Nice sign, but I'm not sure if this was the dedication spot or what, I'll have to find out more information. 

I peddled down through Tow Path Park, Squaw Island, and Broderick Park before turning around.  All in all a good day. 

A breezy day at Tow Path Park in Buffalo