On North Carolina's fragile Outer Banks, it doesn't take a hurricane to interrupt power. A good March storm will do it. That's what happened last week, according to the Outer Banks Voice (see: "Ice and wind take down power to Hatteras, Ocracoke islands," by Sam Walker). "Power was knocked out to all of Hatteras and Ocracoke islands Friday night, after ice build-up and windy conditions caused main high voltage lines that run the length of the islands to "gallop" near Buxton," the paper reports.

"Galloping" power lines are uncommon in North Carolina, the paper reports, but are well-known in the northern Plains states, where a combination of wind and ice is more usual. Here's a YouTube video of the phenomenon, taken last year in Farmington, Minnesota (Galloping Power Lines).

Residents say the Outer Banks power grid is more reliable than it used to be, and second-home or rental property owners rarely opt to install a backup generator. But for year-round residents, backup power, at least for a portion of the home's needs, can make sense. For more on standby generators, see Blackout Power Solutions (Coastal Contractor 9/07).