The Most Overlooked (And Realistic) Threat To Preppers

April 17, 2023

Biggest Threat Right Under Your Nose

 “… the insatiate monster is still creeping up inch by inch, winding its swelling folds round the pillars and foundations of all the houses in its way, crushing and grinding them in the maw of destruction, and sweeping the broken fragments into a common vortex of ruin.” – Oregon City Argus, Dec. 14, 1861 – Flood at Oregon City.

One hundred mile-per-hour winds fanned a wildfire in Colorado and wiped out over 1,000 structures, sending people into panicked flight from their homes and typically tranquil neighborhoods.  In California, which accounts for 50 billion dollars worth of the nation’s agricultural products, exceptional droughts occur with greater frequency. Water levels are being restored not across 30 weeks but in atmospheric rivers of rain occurring in just one week.  Snow and freezing temperatures in the South, Mid-Atlantic, and Northeast have replaced the unseasonably warm 80-degree warmth in some locations with an all-out snowstorm, leaving tens of thousands without power.  Rare low precipitation supercells spawn tornadoes in Georgia.  A series of killer tornadoes struck in Western Kentucky.  From record-warm temperatures to dumps of precipitation to extreme winds and frigid cold to snowstorms, weather so far this year has been cycling swiftly and violently from one extreme to the other. 


Old PhotoFor as long as humans have walked the Earth, we haven’t tracked temperatures very well.  Though the oldest continuous temperature record is the Central England Temperature Data Series beginning in 1659, recorded temperatures from multiple locations did not start until 1880.  It’s difficult to extrapolate out global weather patterns from one or just a few sites documenting the data. For this reason, temperature records derived from instruments are often separated from proxy measurements.  Data from earlier years are reconstructed from proxy records like tree rings, pollen counts, geological records, and ice cores. Because these are different kinds of data, scientists generally don’t put proxy-based estimates on the same charts as instrumental records.  Often scientists have to first turn to the oral history of an area and then use proxy records to determine the validity of the claims.

A look at data over the last century shows a dramatic rise in the number of catastrophic natural events.  A person can look at either the instrumental or proxy records and find that extreme weather isn’t new in the Earth’s historical record.  Global temperatures have risen and fallen over epochs of time.  Mini ice ages, floods, droughts, dust storms, and more all point to cyclical patterns on the Earth.  Our difficulty as humans strutting our hour on the stage of a production spanning multiple millennia is to soberly assess the instrumental and proxy data we do have and view it in comparison to what we are seeing today and what we have from the oral history of the area we live in at the moment.  Many get lost at this point, hung up on minor discrepancies or the lack of data in a particular area.  For instance, Indigenous people didn’t keep meticulous temperature details, so can we truly know what the weather was like 500, 800, or 1,000 years ago?  The answer is only from the proxy record.  Even then, scientists need to come at it from multiple angles and vet it with multiple sources.  Even then, it’s hard to relate those findings to the average person today.  There’s considerable science and data involved, and significant uncertainty is involved.  From the instrument records we have, though, we can determine that the total number of global disasters is higher than ever.  The facts are that we haven’t seen weather patterns oscillate quite as rapidly as we are seeing right now. It remains difficult for many to fully grasp how the weather patterns in Myanmar might impact someone living continents away.

Even though the response to these events might be a positive step forward to lessen their impact in the future, often, these responses are outdated and not updated.  Consider the levy system in New Orleans that failed horribly during Hurricane Katrina.  Consider the electrical system in Texas’ every ten years power outages from freezing temperatures.  Consider the modern farming techniques compared to the methods used before the Dust Bowl?  How might a prolonged drought in California today impact your food supply since California agriculture accounts for nearly 50 billion dollars worth of agricultural products you consume every day?  You might not feel the frigid cold where you are that wipes out the citrus crop a thousand miles away, but that weather event will impact you and your food choices.

Do take note of the history and data.  Do understand that when you hear terms like “record-breaking, “historic,” and “never before seen,” they are referencing data accumulated over the last one-hundred-forty years or so.  Yes, these events have happened before, but you may not have seen them in your lifetime.  Also, question why you see extreme droughts or precipitation, extreme cold or heat, extreme storms or unseasonable days, or wild oscillations between these year after year.  It’s not just that you hear about it because you have better and faster news.  It is because extreme weather events are becoming the norm, and they have unfathomable ramifications.  Comparing the impact of a severe snowstorm to an equally intense snowstorm from a century ago is difficult because rural electricity in the 1920s was as rare as Google Fiber is today, agricultural practices were different, housing construction was different, the supply chain was different, and more.  Still, there is a way we can look at the most relevant information, weed through all the data, and find the weather patterns we should be prepping for now.


Fruits In FridgeThe average person, faced with overwhelming data and daunting, scary headlines, turns to their own area for answers and to forecast the future.  The science is overwhelming, so I also recommend this approach.  Talk to the old-timer locals.  Go to the library in your area and read the old newspapers on microfiche.  Be a historian of the area you live in today.  What are the indigenous people’s tales?  Do you live in Oregon, Nevada, or California?  Do you know about the Great Flood of 1862 and the conditions that led to that?  Do you live along the Missouri River but don’t know about the flood of 1881?  Have you heard about New England’s Great September Gale of 1815 that toppled church steeples and ripped up fruit trees as far as 85 miles inland?  How about the 1816 Year Without a Summer?  That was the result of Mount Tambora erupting in Indonesia, which spewed tons of volcanic ash into the air.  Crops failed as frosts occurred even in the Summer in the United States.  Do you understand the causes and circumstances preceding the Dust Bowl and Black Blizzards less than a century ago?  There are both global, national, and local instances of extreme weather that have impacted the area where you live, and you should know and note the significant events as they are apt to repeat themselves. 

Don’t just passively accept that these extreme events have occurred in your area’s historical past.  Don’t dismiss them as one-time events.  They can and will happen again, and if recent history is any indicator, they could repeat in your lifetime.  Seek the bigger picture.  Research and understand the conditions and circumstances that led up to the significant weather events of your area.  Compare those conditions to what you are seeing today.  Be your own forecaster.  You may be wrong.  You might end up wildly off base.  People might call you Noah and laugh behind your back, but if you are prepared, you will weather the storm, drought, flood, blizzard, high winds, earthquake, or whatever comes your way.  If you are wrong, you will still be able to weather a wide range of natural disasters that might occur.

We rarely discuss the flood that happened a hundred years ago until we are in the aftermath of a flood today.  What I am encouraging you to do is to become a historian of your area.  Acquire a local understanding of the extreme weather and disasters of your location.  That’s what you should be prepping for now.  We are a transient culture, and many didn’t grow up in the same area they now find themselves living in.  Those who take the time to really understand the historical record of their location are better equipped with the knowledge to survive.  It can help you in more ways than simply understanding the possible weather patterns you should prep for.  Many towns and homesteads have old wells sealed off and long ago forgotten.  Knowing that information might help you after a disaster.  Let others argue the temperature anomalies of your time while you methodically research and seek to understand the extreme weather your area has faced in the past.


Kid In TentAfter you delve into your area’s historical record, you might feel overwhelmed by the number of real possibilities you could be facing in the future.  Rest assured, however, that in our modern age, any extreme weather event will result in the same loss of modern conveniences you probably take for granted right now.  Loss of water, sewer, electrical, food supplies, medicine, police, fire, other emergency services, natural gas, and even your shelter are all probabilities after any disaster.  This is why we say that when you prepare for one type of disaster, you prepare for a multitude of disasters.  I know many preppers who used their stored emergency food after a job loss to make sure food was on the table.  I know many people who were preparing for other disasters when the power went out for a week or more where they were at.  The tent they had for a bug out situation served to create a warm microclimate for them when they pitched it in their living room.  You also find out what doesn’t work for you after a disaster.  You may not have accurately calculated your power needs, as I show you how to do in another video, so you find out you don’t have enough power to run the vital things you need after a disaster.  Maybe you find out that utility tool made in China isn’t as solidly built as it appears to be.  Whatever the lessons you learn after a disaster has struck, the same systems are apt to fail.  You want to focus upon those realizations and fix them for the future.

First, address each from the recommended 72-hour perspective.  Can you either get by without one or all of these critical systems for at least 72-hours?  The government and non-government agencies that suggest a minimum of 72 hours assume you can make it without refrigeration for medicines, a flushing toilet, running water, and a means to cook a hot meal.  After 72-hours, though, they also understand that the risk of disease and sickness increases exponentially.  If you can’t make it at least 72-hours in the absence of one of these modern conveniences I mentioned, you know in which direction you need to take your preps.  Then stretch your preps to 3-weeks out.  That 21 day period won’t get you through a Dust Bowl, of course, but it’s likely the waters would be receding from any major flood by that time, and the recovery and rebuilding efforts would be underway.  However, your minimal goal as a prepper should be to push your preps to endure a 3-month disaster which sets the foundation to build further out.  Having that type of preparation on hand serves two purposes.  First, it will get you through every minor disaster that comes your way with greater certainty.  Second, if the catastrophe stretches longer than 3-months, you will be able to ration, stretch your reserves, supplement them, and adapt to the more rigorous and Spartan new reality.

Weather disasters tend to strike in one overwhelming spike of energy, and then it’s all about enduring the aftermath.  Of course, a drought might stretch on for months, or precipitation might fall every day for weeks, and you can’t thoroughly prepare for a weather pattern that changes so dramatically and stretches out for weeks or months. Still, most extreme weather situations come in one massive burst of energy.  Prepare for that spike of energy just as you prepare to endure the stretched-out aftermath.  Clear overgrown trees and brush from your area.  That will keep your structures safer in either a storm with wind or a wildfire.  Clear gutters and make sure your property drains appropriately.  This is true even if you live in the desert.  It’s true even if you live in a well-defined suburb. 

Make sure drafty windows and doors are fixed or replaced.  Make sure you change the oil in your gas generator, even if you don’t use it.  Make sure your water heater and pipes are adequately insulated.  Most people don’t think of these things until they fail.  After all, if they are working, what’s to worry about?  They often lack the knowledge or skills to assess the systems and rely solely on current residential building codes, but modern building codes don’t factor in historical extreme weather events.  Your home is your biodome, and you have to make sure that the systems going in and out of it will operate when restored to the grid and that you can get along without those systems for as long as you need.  So get your food, water, sanitation, and energy preps in order at the same time that you harden off and protect the systems you have.

Finally, have the means to carry on without those failed systems. Have the means to boil and purify water for drinking, cook food, and provide heat or cool your environment. Have the means to protect yourself, provide medical services, or extinguish fires in and around your home.  Get in touch with your more self-sufficient ancestors.  Become a student of history to understand how to cope with the future challenges you will face.


We live in a different age, but even a cursory glance at the historical record of your area compared to what you should be seeing in headlines and out your window right now should compel you to prepare for the worst. You would be fooling yourself if you thought that the same disaster or worse that occurred 100 or 200 years ago in your community couldn’t happen again.  It could happen, and it could be a whole lot worse because of our over-dependence on systems that will fail and our community’s lack of self-sufficiency. In the past, when the municipal waters failed, it was alright because the well was working just fine.  In the past, when the electricity went out, it was okay because your ancestors heated with wood.  In the past, when the supply chain failed, it was alright because enough people grew their own food, made their own soap, or hunted and processed food, fats, even soaps.  Things are different now, and people’s over-dependence on systems apt to fail will dramatically impact you after any extreme weather event.

What do you think?  What is the most extreme weather event in your area’s history?  What are the chances it could repeat itself?  Are you prepared for it to happen again, or do you think it won’t?  Let us know in the comments below.  

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