Severe Summer Storms Are Only Beginning

Will the summer of 2023 shape up to be as strong of a storm season as what we’ve seen in recent years? Only time will tell. But based on what we’ve seen this past spring and now in the summer, I wouldn’t be surprised.

The one thing we can be sure of is that extreme weather events will once again cause power outages this summer. It’s inevitable, and the resulting problems will include food spoilage, lack of air conditioning, and fumbling around in the dark.   

Just two weeks ago, a tornado outbreak occurred in Texas, Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi over several days. Four deaths, more than 120 injuries, and major damage to structures and trees resulted.

One of the 68 confirmed tornadoes in this outbreak reached the EF3 level in Perryton, Texas. Featuring winds in excess of 150 miles per hour, it injured about 100 people, damaged or destroyed nearly 200 buildings including retail stores, and bent a microwave tower in half. 

June tornadoes wreaking havoc

Only a week later, a tornado ripped through the small Texas town of Matador, about 80 miles northeast of Lubbock. Four people were killed and 10 were injured.

The powerful storm included high winds and hail the size of softballs. A volunteer firefighter said that 15 structures were destroyed and the entire west side of the town was “wiped out.”

Wind speeds of more than 100 mph were recorded in other parts of Texas from the storm. Strong enough to derail a train in Navarro County.

That same day, 11 tornadoes were reported across Texas and three other states – Nebraska, Wyoming, and Colorado – according to the National Weather Service. Hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses lost electrical power.

You could lose food in an outage 

Of course, it’s not only tornadoes that result in blackouts. Severe storms do the same in various areas of the country on a nearly daily basis.

One of the casualties of power outages is the food in our refrigerators and freezers. How do we know whether it’s still safe to eat after an outage? 

The United States Department of Agriculture offers this guideline. Anything left unrefrigerated for over four hours at temperatures of 40 degrees or higher is at risk of developing food-borne bacteria that could lead to illness. 

That’s good information if you know what time your power went out. But what if you return home to find the power is out? How do you know how long it’s been out?  

A 25-cent hack will tell you

Here’s a clever hack from Put a coup of water in your freezer. Once the water is frozen, place a quarter on top of the ice.

If you come home to find that your power is out, check where the quarter is. If it’s still at or near the top, your food is probably safe to consume. 

But if it has sunk down toward the middle of the cup or lower, your food is probably starting to spoil.

Now, that’s hardly a scientific test. And it’s better to error on the side of caution. But nobody wants to waste food, and that little trick could be helpful in determining how long your power has been out. 

The message here is one you’ve heard from us many times. Preparedness is the key to handling emergencies, including power outages caused by extreme weather. Make sure you have backup power.


  • Terri - June 29, 2023

    Because I have a smaller refrigerator/freezer in my small place, I use a 2oz. Plastice souffle cup and a penny. This is a trick that I’ve used for many years living here in “hurricane alley” Florida.

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